[31 December 2014] It’s not the controversial photos of Hollywood celebrities or the viral videos of K-Pop stars that ‘broke the Internet’ in 2014, but the millions of ordinary Filipinos who went online on their mobile phones and enjoyed the countless benefits of staying connected, thanks to the Free Internet promo by wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).
Ordinary Pinoys discover the benefits of mobile Internet with Smart’s promo.
It’s not the controversial photos of Hollywood celebrities or the viral videos of K-Pop stars that ‘broke the Internet’ in 2014, but the millions of ordinary Filipinos who went online on their mobile phones and enjoyed the countless benefits of staying connected, thanks to the Free Internet promo by wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).
Launched in September, Smart Free Internet became one of the biggest news in the Philippine mobile industry as it provided active prepaid subscribers of Smart, Sun Cellular, and Talk ‘N Text a total of 30 MB of free data per day, which they can use to browse all their favorite websites, access social media accounts, send and receive emails, stream music, and shop online, among others – all via their mobile.
On top of the 30 MB data, the promo also offered free unlimited access to Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking site. Subscribers may register to the promo for free every day, by texting FREE to 9999, simply by maintaining a load balance of P1.00 or subscribing to any promo.
In unveiling the unprecedented offer, PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan explained that Smart aims to assist the bulk of Filipinos who have yet to experience the perks of having instant access to the information highway on their data-enabled phones.
“Many Filipinos already have the mobile devices capable of accessing the Internet but have yet to use them to go online. By offering free mobile Internet, Smart can effectively promote digital inclusion and spread the benefits of the Internet in the fastest and most effective way possible,” he said.
The positive response from subscribers prompted Smart to extend the promo all postpaid and broadband subscribers after only a week, making it possible for 72 million subscribers to enjoy mobile Internet and unlimited Facebook access at no extra cost.
Internet for all walks of life
With the groundbreaking promo, Filipinos from all walks of life have discovered the ease and convenience that mobile Internet can bring to their daily lives – from allowing them to connect more with their loved ones and helping them perform their daily jobs to actually giving their lifestyle a big boost, what with all available information at their fingertips.
Among those who discovered the possibility of using one’s phone to connect to the Internet for the first time was truck driver Joselito Baes, who was ecstatic to learn that he could now keep in touch with his family in Mindanao online on a regular basis.
“First time kong gumamit ng Internet sa cellphone dahil sa Smart Free Internet. 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,” he said.
Like Baes, house help Cherry Segula celebrated the promo for allowing her to connect more with her loved ones. “May Tita po kasi ako sa Italy, tatlong taon na siyang nandoon. Gamit and libreng Internet, mas updated na ako sa mga ginagawa niya. Hindi ko na po kailangang lumabas ng bahay para pumunta sa Internet café,” she said, adding that she has also been surfing the Internet for new recipes of delicious meals to serve the family she is with.
Security guard Anthony Angulo said the promo enabled him to access the World Wide Web for news and 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.”
“Dahil din dito, nakaka-communicate ako sa mga kapatid ko sa Quezon. Isang beses lang kasi akong umuwi sa isang taon,” he added.
Growing online business
Meanwhile, self-confessed ‘Internet junkie’ Trixie Pineda, 22, said that Smart Free Internet allows her to grow her virtual store, Trekiiiescloset, in which she sells clothes, shoes, and accessories at affordable prices.
“The Smart Free Internet promo has been really beneficial to my online selling, kasi lagi akong nasa labas, eh not every establishment has WiFi. Sobrang bilis ko makipag-communicate sa customers and hindi ko na kailangan mag-worry kung may free Wifi ba sa pupuntahan ko every time I go out. I’ll just register to Smart Free Internet instead and I’m good to go,” she added.
With the Free Internet offer from Smart, online sellers like Pineda could do so much more than tend to their stores: they can also search for information on Google and Wikipedia, get their fill of news and trends from lifestyle sites, and shop for other items overseas via eBay and Amazon, that they can then sell locally. They can also use navigation tools like Waze and Google Maps when they need to make deliveries, and use traffic info sites such as the MMDA's and InterAksyon's.
Heavy on online research
Meanwhile, a group of 20 young individuals in Bataan called Balanga Makerspace makes use of Smart Free Internet in creating mobile and web-based solutions to help address community problems.
The group usually helps business startups, but they also readily deal with college students, professionals and entrepreneurs who need assistance on data networks, advertisements, commerce, and tourism. A lot of these solutions require a ton of online research, in which the Smart Free Internet becomes handy.
“We use Smart Free Internet on researching on Google and on technical sites. We have actually used it in developing customized mobile apps and other mobile solutions for Bataan clients,” shared Balanga Makerspace co-founder Laurence Arguelles.
The promo also allowed the group to easily access and edit their research materials on Google Drive. “For example, I was able to easily put together my research on virgin coconut oil using Smart’s free Internet. It was a scientific documentation and Smart was a big help,” said Patrick Evan Espiritu, another co-founder.
Apart from individuals and groups, businesses are also able to take advantage of the Smart Free Internet offer to boost their operations.
Extensive network coverage
Such is the case of PUBLICUS Asia, Inc. a government relations and campaigns firm founded by Malou Tiquia and Lilibet Amatong. The firm offers PR services and research, as well as assistance in direct and indirect lobbying, rebranding, image enhancement, reputation management, strategic communication, and fundraising.
Mobile internet keeps the PUBLiCUS team up-to-date with the news in real time – which is a must in their industry. As expected, the team welcomed Smart’s groundbreaking Free Internet offer, which greatly helps their team at no extra cost.
“Based on our experience, Smart has been reliable in our nationwide operations because of its extensive network coverage. This gives us the assurance of being able to connect to each other constantly, keeping everyone aligned in whatever work we are pursuing,” said Amatong.
“Mobile internet is critical when servicing our clients during an ongoing crisis. We also refer to our smartphones for traffic reports, weather updates, and Google maps.”
For Tiquia, who is in charge of overall strategizing, mobile Internet ensures that she gets important email in real time, even when she’s not in a WiFi zone. “I can check social media platforms and post messages. I am updated as an event happens, and I get immediate pulse on the issue. I can be in sync with the office and do work even while I am away.” The PUBLiCUS Asia team rely heavily on Smart’s nationwidest network coverage
for their mobile data and communication needs across the country.
Living the ‘Smart Life’
"With encouraging results from our Smart Free Internet promo, we see subscribers' mobile Internet usage further increasing by year-end, and well into 2015,” said Charles Lim, executive vice president and Wireless Consumer Division head at Smart and Sun Cellular.
Lim noted that with the promo, Smart is poised to further increase mobile data traffic within the network, which posted a robust 112 percent growth in the first nine months of the year, equivalent to 27,000 terabytes worth of data exchanged from January to September compared with 13,000 terabytes of data for the same period last year.
The network also reported that record-high mobile data revenues of P5.73 billion for January-September 2014, up 69.2 percent from P3.39 billion in the same period last year.
“At the core of Smart Free Internet, we are enabling more Filipinos to embrace the ‘Smart Life,’ which entails making the most of our available innovative products and services in establishing meaningful connections and, ultimately, living more.”