In surprise move, Smart offers free mobile Internet for pre-paid users

By Tom Noda

Business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of PLDT and its mobile arm Smart, made a surprise announcement Friday, Sept. 26, by offering free mobile Internet access service for the carrier’s prepaid users in the Philippines.

PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan made a surprise announcement to offer free mobile Internet Smart's prepaid users

PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan made a surprise announcement to offer free mobile Internet Smart’s prepaid users

Pangilinan said the free Internet access applies to all 66 million prepaid subscribers of Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular using their data-enabled cellphones nationwide in a data volume package of up to 30MB per day.

The special offer will be available initially until November 30.

With the free service, users can email, browse the web, stream music, shop online, and update their social media accounts, among others. However, data charges will apply to peer-to-peer uploads and downloads, videos, VOIP and messaging.

Pangilinan said their goal is to give more Filipinos — now estimated at over 100 million — the opportunity to experience the Internet and enjoy its benefits.

“Many of them already have the mobile devices capable of accessing the Internet but have yet to use them to go online,” he said, noting Smart can effectively promote “digital inclusion” and spread the benefits of the Internet.

According to Smart and PLDT public affairs head Mon Isberto, around 90 percent of Filipinos are prepaid subscribers. He said this is a “challenge to be solved” for the network.

Charles Lim, who heads Smart’s wireless consumer division, said they aim to encourage non-Internet users to experience it at its best and develop the habit of using it. Lim, a former executive of Smart rival Globe telecom, added that users could later opt to choose an array of different data packages from Smart.

Meanwhile, Smart and PLDT’s president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno said Smart’s latest mobile data traffic increased to 77 percent from last year’s figures. “We want to grow this even further and continue to monitor it in terms of volume,” the executive said.

The PLDT Group recently reported to have rolled out about 90,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables nationwide that provides the transmission facilities needed to support Internet services.

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