SMART Communications Inc. together with Talk ‘N Text and Sun Cellular are encouraging subscribers to go online with their mobile devices by offering free Internet services to their 66 million prepaid subscribers.
“[With] the 90 percent prepaid users, [We want to encourage] many sana [hopefully], those who are not using the Internet now we want to encourage them to go into it, and experience it. This is the time to do it. Because it’s free and network it there,” President and Chief Executive Officer of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) Napoleon Nazareno told reporters on Friday.
In an unprecedented move, the three mobile companies Friday announced that they will start providing free Internet access to their prepaid subscribers via their mobile phones.
“We are launching this initiative to provide a much larger number of Filipinos the opportunity to try out and experience the Internet, enjoy its benefits and, as we at Smart like to say, live more,” said Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Smart and its parent company PLDT.
“This special offer is specifically designed to assist our prepaid subscribers who make up the bulk of our population. Many of them already have the mobile devices capable of accessing the Internet but have yet to use them to go online. In this way, Smart can effectively promote digital inclusion and spread the benefits of the Internet in the fastest and most effective way possible,” he added.
“Through this special offer, all of the 66 million Smart prepaid, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular prepaid subscribers can use their data-enabled cellphones to browse through and post on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, visit their favorite websites, search on Google and Wikipedia, use navigation tools like Waze and Google Maps, book a cab via Easy Taxi, or use traffic info sites such as the MMDA’s and InterAksyon’s,” Pangilinan said.
“This particular offering is really for non-users so definitely there would be an education campaign with different channels, sales points, after sales points and media as well, because you are talking about the market who don’t know, number one their phones and number two they don’t know how to navigate the Internet. So that is the whole point of this offer, to give them a chance to try it out,” PLDT Corporate Communications Head Ramon Isberto said.
Smart, Talk ‘N Text and Sun Cellular subscribers can also send and receive e-mails,
read their favorite blogs or update their own blogs, listen to songs via Smart’s Spinnr music service, shop via online stores like Zalora, Lazada, book their travel details through sites like Skyscanner and Expedia, among other things–all without incurring data charges.
“Generally the principle is you would like your customers to be able to experience it and from there they would make a judgement and that’s really the objective,” Charles Lim, chief operating officer of Sun Cellular and executive vice president of Smart said.
“We want to encourage everybody who are using smartphones to engage in the Internet. Get the Internet experience and [from]there develop the habit of using the Internet,” Lim added.
“As we know from the vendors and partners we talked and we deal with, more than 50 percent now of their shipment are with smartphones already. So therefore, we expect the penetration to increase over the two years. It’s [smartphone penetration]really on its way up,” Lim said.
Smart’s free mobile Internet offer follows the telco leader’s recent announcement that it has stepped up the deployment of its mobile Internet network, to meet the growing demand for mobile data services.
Smart recently reported a 73-percent hike in mobile data traffic, as smartphone prices continue to fall and innovative services like SmartNet and PisoNet allow more and more Filipinos to gain access to the Internet through their mobile phones.
“The strength and resiliency of our mobile data infrastructure enable us to make this special free Internet offer available to our prepaid subscribers. Moreover, we continue to expand the reach of our network so that we can bring the Internet to more communities all over the country,” said Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT president and chief executive officer.
To avail themselves of the free mobile Internet offer, Smart, Talk ‘N Text and Sun Cellular subscribers must have an available airtime balance of at least one peso, or is subscribed to any load bucket or promo. They must register each day, by simply sending “FREE” to the number “9999.” Registration is free. They will receive an SMS confirmation upon successful registration.
Once registered, subscribers can enjoy a free data volume package of up to 30MB per day. Data charges will, however, apply to peer-to-peer uploads and downloads, videos, VOIP and messaging.