Sunday, May 26, 2024

PH is first in SE Asia to get Facebook?s free Internet access app

Wireless operator Smart Communications, through its value brand Talk ?N Text, has partnered with Facebook to introduce the Internet.org app, which offers a set of basic mobile internet services without data charges.

Smart Communications EVP Charles Lim (left) and Smart CEO Napoleon Nazareno (center) is joined by Markku Makelainen, director of global operator partnerships at Facebook, during the launch in Taguig City
Smart Communications EVP Charles Lim (left) and Smart CEO Napoleon Nazareno (center) is joined by Markku Makelainen, director of global operator partnerships at Facebook, during the launch in Taguig City

For its initial phase, Internet.org app allows Filipinos to enjoy free access to 24 websites, including Facebook and Messenger, on their mobile phones.

Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative that aims to make basic mobile Internet services available to two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected. Smart is the first telco to launch with Internet.org app in the Philippines, and the launch marks the first time the Internet.org app will be available in Southeast Asia.

Since 2014, Internet.org has rolled out in six countries, including Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia, enabling people to browse useful information and websites with zero data charges.

Bannering the Internet.org app launch in the Philippines is Smart?s budget brand Talk ?N Text, which targets the larger mass segment of the population. The service is also available for Smart and Sun subscribers. The services can be accessed from the Internet.org Android app or by visiting www.internet.org from a mobile browser.

Addressing barriers

?We are working with operators, content partners, and governments from all over the world to address the barriers that prevent people from connecting and joining the knowledge economy. We are excited to bring Internet.org app to the Philippines and give people access to Internet services and tools that can help create new ideas and opportunities,? said Markku Makelainen, director of global operator partnerships at Facebook.

?Smart?s partnership with Facebook is a big boost to our ?Internet for All? campaign, an advocacy we have been strongly pushing for. By launching Internet.org app with Facebook in the Philippines, we are making useful information within reach of millions of Filipinos,? said Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon L. Nazareno.

The Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines estimates that only 38 percent of the country?s population had Internet access in mid-2014.

TNT - Internet.org App Screenshot

Access to 24 websites

Subscribers may download the Internet.org app on Google Play Store. They may also simply text INTERNET to 9999 to enjoy the services.

With the Internet.org app on their mobile phones, TNT, Smart and Sun subscribers nationwide may now access general information on Ask.com, Bing, Dictionary.com, wikiHow and Wikipedia; get news updates on Inquirer, PhilStar, InterAksyon, and Rappler; stay updated on sports through ESPN and SPIN.PH; check out the weather and climate through Accuweather and RainCheckPH; and enjoy stories via Wattpad.

They may also check out free programs and trainings on the official website of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority at TESDA.gov.ph; check employment opportunities on Jobstreet; sell items on OLX.ph; gain financial literacy via PesosandSense and YourMoney.com; learn about women?s issues in sites like BabyCenter & MAMA and Girl Effect; and access health information on UNICEF?s Facts for Life.

On top of these sites, subscribers may enjoy the services of Facebook and Facebook Messenger, which they may use to connect to loved ones and friends.

Milestone for digital inclusion

?Through Internet.org, Smart and Facebook are able to provide Filipinos with a vast wealth of information at their fingertips, which in turn opens up doors for greater social opportunities for them ? at no extra cost,? said Charles A. Lim, executive vice president and wireless consumer division head of Smart and Sun.

?Serendipitously, the launch of this initiative comes a week before we celebrate the 21st anniversary of the country?s first connection to the Internet on March 29. This is an excellent way to commemorate this milestone of the Internet in the Philippines,? Nazareno noted.

A "groufie" shot is led by TNT endorser Robin Padilla
A “groufie” shot is led by TNT endorser Robin Padilla

As early as 2011, Smart launched SmartNet which offers free access to a suite of popular mobile apps. It also allows users to browse Smart?s news aggregator service Headlines, and use Yahoo search and email services on their mobile phone without added data charges.

In 2013, Smart introduced PowerApp which lets subscribers enjoy Internet packages (Photo, Social, Chat, Email, and Unli packages) for as low as P10 a day. The following year, the company offered PisoNet to enable Talk ?N Text subscribers to access apps and websites on their mobile devices for only P1 per 10 minutes.

And in September last year, Smart launched its Free Internet promo which gives prepaid, postpaid, and broadband subscribers of Smart, Sun Cellular, and Talk ?N Text 30 MB of free mobile Internet access per day.

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