[/caption] At a media event held in Makati City attended by top executives from Google and Globe, the two tech firms officially made the Philippines the global launch pad of Free Zone. A number of top technology sites in the US such as engadget.com carried the story as Globe and Google rolled out the service in the local market. The service allows Globe Prepaid and TM subscribers access to Google Search, Gmail, and Google+ on feature phones and smartphones at no cost via libre.ph. ?All a subscriber needs is an Internet-capable handset to search the Web, send and receive e-mails, and share experiences anytime, anywhere, minus the mobile browsing charges,? a Globe statement said. Free Zone, the companies said, is ideal for first-time mobile Internet users who often find basic services like e-mail, mobile Web browsing and social applications to be very expensive, thus limiting their subscription to mobile surfing plans and bundles. The offer is initially available to Globe Prepaid and TM subscribers nationwide until March 31, 2013. With Free Zone, users get unlimited access to:
Search: Users can search the Web and access the first page of websites from the results without getting charged. If they click further, users are directed to a page where they can subscribe to a data plan to continue. But for as long as they stay within the Free Zone, charging will not take place.
Email: Even without a data plan, users can still send and receive text emails while on the go via Gmail. Uploading and downloading attachments carry corresponding data charges.
Sharing: Google+ lets users share things such as photos.Google said they’re also providing the new service to other telcos locally and worldwide. “So it’s not exclusive. Rather than say partnership, Google powered Free Zone for Globe,” the company said. The versions of Google Search, Gmail and Google+ on Free Zone are designed to work well with feature phones that lack the technological firepower of a smartphone. Google said it built the software and Globe became the first operator in the world to make it work on its network, making the Philippines the first place in the world to use the new product. ?Free Zone powered by Google empowers subscribers by letting them be in the know and keeping them updated right at their fingertips. The best part is, subscribers don?t need to worry about getting charged, so they can enjoy visiting sites through Google and other Google services worry-free,? said Peter Bithos, senior advisor for consumer business of Globe. ?We wanted to make search available to as many people as possible. But a free search result isn?t much good if you can?t then go to the Web site,? said Andrew McGlinchey, head of products for Southeast Asia at Google. ?So we decided to make all those Web sites available as part of the package as well. We?re hoping Free Zone will make the mobile Internet feel like a necessity that everyone can use rather than a luxury.?]]>