Pope Francis’ Visit To The Philippines Interrupts Mobile Service

Jan 18, 2015 at 11:52 AM ET

Today in the Philippines, six million Catholics attended a mass led by Pope Francis in Manila’s Rizal Park. It was in all likelihood the single largest religious ceremony in history. But there was a snag for the photo-friendly faithful: They couldn’t upload live posts, snapshots or videos of the event.

Reports suggest that local telecommunications companies temporarily shut down their services in the metropolitan Manila area to thwart any communications or posts that might compromise the pope’s safety.

Apparently the government issued a request to Globe Telecom Inc. and Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company (PLDT), asking the mobile network operators to disable their services in areas where the pope was holding events. Additional reports suggest that Smart Communications and Globe Telecom apologized for the shutoff.

Vocativ managed to detect several posts referring to the shutdown:

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II confirmed that mobile phone signals from all networks were switched off when Pope Francis was outside the Apostolic Nunciature, his temporary residence during his visit to the Philippines.

Back on Jan. 15, local reports were already mentioning warnings from top Philippine companies about weak signals and an unreliable Internet connection during the papal visit.

#pope visit in Philipines. Cellphone neworks broke down under congestion, @FireChatApp kept working. Phone mesh.

A photo posted by Jaap Van Till (@jaapvtill) on