MANILA, Philippines–Philippine Long Distance Corp. (PLDT), the country’s biggest telecommunications company, is offering free mobile internet to its 66 million prepaid subscribers for the next two months, as officials noted that long-term benefits would offset a temporary hit in terms of forgone revenues.
PLDT chair Manuel V. Pangilinan announced on Friday that prepaid subscribers of Smart, Talk ’N Text, and Sun Cellular be provided free internet starting Friday until Nov. 30. The press conference was held days after Pangilinan alluded to a “very important” announcement on his Twitter account.
Prepaid subscribers account for about 90 percent of all mobile subscribers and Pangilinan said the move was aimed at unlocking the value of these subscribers. Officials added that their network was “ready” to handle the expected increase in internet usage.
“The objective is to stimulate the internet habit,” Charles Lim, who heads Smart Communications’ consumer wireless business, said during the press conference.
Subscribers can access the internet either through data-capable feature phones or smartphones running on Android, iOS and Windows operating systems.
The promo comes with certain limitations, including a daily limit of 30 megabytes per day, after which a subscriber will be asked if he wants to purchase additional prepaid credits. Prepaid subscribers using the free promo will also be charged the regular rate for downloading videos, using file sharing and messaging applications.
“We are launching this initiative to provide a much larger number of Filipinos the opportunity to try out and experience the Internet, enjoy its benefits and, as we at Smart like to say, live more,” Pangilinan said in a separate statement today.
“This special offer is specifically designed to assist our prepaid subscribers who make up the bulk of our population. Many of them already have the mobile devices capable of accessing the internet but have yet to use them to go online. In this way, Smart can effectively promote digital inclusion and spread the benefits of the Internet in the fastest and most effective way possible,” he added.
PLDT said the promo means prepaid subscribers can use their data-enabled cellphones to browse through and post on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, visit their favorites websites, search on Google and Wikipedia, use navigation tools like Waze and Google Maps, book a cab or limo service via Easy Taxi and Uber, or use traffic info sites.
They can also send and receive emails, read their favorite blogs or update their own blogs, listen to songs via Smart’s Spinnr music service, shop via online stores like Zalora, Lazada, book their travel details through sites like Skyscanner and Expedia, among others.
Smart recently reported a 73-percent hike in mobile data traffic, as smartphone prices continue to fall and innovative services like SmartNet and PisoNet allow more and more Filipinos to gain access to the Internet via their mobile phones.
“The strength and resiliency of our mobile data infrastructure enable us to make this special free internet offer available to our prepaid subscribers. Moreover, we continue to expand the reach of our network so that we can bring the internet to more communities all over the country,” said Napoleon L. Nazareno, president and CEO of Smart and PLDT.
The PLDT Group has thus far rolled out about 90,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables all over the country which provides the transmission facilities needed to support internet services.
It has also the most extensive international cable systems needed to connect the Philippines to the rest of the world.