[7 October 2014] In a country where almost every family has a member working abroad or in a faraway metropolis, staying in touch remains a challenge despite the growing popularity of communication technologies like mobile Internet. Many Filipinos still see mobile Internet as an intimidating service that only the well-to-do can afford.
In a country where almost every family has a member working abroad or in a faraway metropolis, staying in touch remains a challenge despite the growing popularity of communication technologies like mobile Internet. Many Filipinos still see mobile Internet as an intimidating service that only the well-to-do can afford.
Enter the Free Internet offer of wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart). Launched last September 26, the special offer initially gave active prepaid subscribers of Smart, Sun Cellular, and Talk ‘N Text 30 MB of free mobile Internet access per day. Last October 3, the promo was extended to postpaid and broadband subscribers. They can all register to the promo for free every day, by sending FREE to 9999.
Just a week after Free Internet was introduced, tens of thousands of Filipinos have already discovered the benefits mobile Internet can bring to their daily lives.
Truck driver Joselito Baes says he can now regularly connect to his family in Mindanao over Facebook. “First time kong gumamit ng Internet sa cellphone. Natutuwa ako kasi ngayon, nakakausap ko na yung pamilya ko araw-araw. Nakakapag-comment ako sa mga picture nila, nakakapag-kuwentuhan kami. Malaking tulong ito kasi tuwing Pasko lang ako nakakauwi dahil masyadong busy sa trabaho.”
Subscribers of the Free Internet promo can enjoy all-day Facebook access -- including sending messages via Facebook Messenger and the viewing of videos embedded in the site – and visit their favorite social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram, among others.
Messenger Erwin Palomar says he has been registering to the Free Internet promo every day because it enables him to keep in touch with his brother, who left for Dubai last February.
“Malaking tipid ito para sa akin. Saka may maps daw po na makikita online. Magagamit ko iyon sa trabaho ko para hindi ako maligaw,” he says.
Security guard Anthony Angulo and house help Cherry Segula also say the Free Internet promo has helped them check on their loved ones, as well as perform their jobs better.
“May Tita po kasi ako sa Italy, tatlong taon na siyang nandoon. Ngayon updated na ako sa mga ginagawa niya. Hindi ko na po kailangang lumabas ng bahay para pumunta sa Internet café,” Segula says.
She adds that she has been using Free Internet to search for recipes to prepare more delicious meals for the family she is with.
Meanwhile, Angulo says he searches the world wide web for information about current events.
“Mahalaga kasi sa trabaho ko bilang security guard na aware ako sa mga pangyayari sa paligid. Hindi naman ako laging nakakapanood ng TV. Pero dahil sa Free Internet, alam ko yung mga current events,” he says.
“Dahil din dito, nakaka-communicate ako sa Tita at mga kapatid ko sa Quezon. Isang beses lang kasi akong umuwi sa isang taon,” he adds.
Subscribers of the promo can also stream music through Spinnr, shop online, search for information on Google and Wikipedia, and send and receive email, among others. All these services can be enjoyed so long as they have an airtime balance of at least P1, or are subscribed to any load bucket or promo.
Segula says she is so happy with the Free Internet offer that she has been persuading her friends to switch to Smart to avail themselves of the promo.
“Masayang masaya po talaga ako kasi mabilis pa yung Internet connection. Nag-post pa po ako sa Facebook tungkol sa Free Internet para mas marami pa po sa amin ang maka-enjoy nung promo,” she says.
Normal data charges apply to the downloading and watching of videos (except within Facebook), the use of peer-to-peer file sharing apps like Bittorrent, the use of VOIP apps like FaceTime and Viber, and the use of messaging apps like Line, WeChat, and Whatsapp (except Facebook Messenger).
The Free Internet promo can be used on data-capable feature phones or smartphones running on Android, iOS, and Windows operating systems. This special offer will be available initially until January 5, 2015.