Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) chair Manuel Pangilinan and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explored a further strengthening of the partnership between Smart Communications, a subsidiary of PLDT, and Facebook at a recent meeting in California.
In a statement on Monday, Smart said Pangilinan and Zuckerberg met at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park to boost ties in promoting the value of internet among Filipinos.
Facebook and Smart have been in a strategic partnership since the latter rolled out the Free Basics Android app of Facebook in the country in March 2015.
Free Basics, which is now available in more than 30 countries, is a groundbreaking service that aims to make mobile Internet available to two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected and uplift their lives by offering access to online sources and services without data charges.
This also made Smart as the first telecommunications firm in Southeast Asia to launch Free Basics.
“Since its debut in the Philippines in March last year, millions of users on the Smart network have enjoyed Free Basics, which allows them to get in touch with their loved ones, search information, learn from educational sites, seek jobs, and check the news and weather, among many others, without additional cost—effectively breaking down barriers for many Filipinos to appreciate the real-life benefits of mobile internet,” Smart said.
Subsequently, Smart and Facebook introduced Free Facebook Toggle and Free Instagram which increased the number of online users.
Smart stressed that this kind of service has empowered many Filipinos to access digital contents.
Pangilinan’s meeting with the Facebook founder is part of his trip to Silicon Valley where the PLDT chair also had other engagements with leaders and partners in the world’s home of start-ups and global technology companies.