Surfing With Free Mobile Internet Promo

Free Internet Promo

No less than the Chief Executive Officer of PLDT, the country’s largest telecommunication company, made the announcement about free Internet access for their prepaid mobile subscribers. The announcement said that some 66 million subscribers of Smart, Talk ‘N Text and Sun stand to benefit from the promo. Immediately, apprehensions as to the real objectives of the promo were expressed both online and offline and here are some of them:

  1. Cover-Up for Poor Service – According to a recent report, the Philippines has the slowest Internet speed in Southeast Asia so in order to more or less lessen the complaints about the provider’s poor service, PLDT thought of this promotion.
  2. Testing of Facilities – With Internet access becoming the core business for telcos, the build-up of facilities to cope with the increasing demand is one thing that the competitors cannot evade. The telco that can prove to have massive infrastructure that could handle demand for faster and more reliable mobile connections will definitely have the edge. To test what they have built so far is what many believe to be a reason why PLDT decided to give free 30-MB Internet access to all their prepaid subscribers who can avail of the promo.
  3. Catch for Paid Surfing – The free mobile internet access is believed by some netizens to be a catch for spending prepaid loads by a user who needs to surf websites not covered in the promo.

Out of curiosity, I decided to try the promo right on its first day using a Talk ‘N Text SIM on my Android smartphone. I had to load it ₱60.00 prepaid credit because it has zero balance and the promo requires an active account with at least ₱1.00 load. Per instruction, I sent the word FREE to 9999 and the system replied instantly with the message “Congrats Ka-tropa! Naka-register ka na sa FREE INTERNET promo ng Talk ‘N Text! Pwede ka na mag-internet for 24 hours! Panalo! Promo valid until 11/30/14“.

Before I started surfing, I installed My Data Manager app so that I can monitor my data usage and not exceed the 30-MB limit of the promo. My first day of availing the promo was very frustrating. My connection was very slow and only Facebook using its app would open after 10 to 15 minutes. I cannot open any website using any of the Dolphin Mini, Oracle Mini, CM and built-in browsers in my smartphone.

I thought it was just one of those days in my area when mobile connection to my provider was off-specification so I gave up surfing after downloading 2 MB of data in almost an hour of browsing Facebook (FB). Not one to make a hasty conclusion, I again registered to the promo the next day. This time, the connection was a lot better so I was able to try doing the typical things that an ordinary netizen does when surfing the Net. I spent almost an hour and 6 MB of data and the following are my observations on what a promo taker can get out of it:

  • Surfing with Limited Apps Only – The promo does not allow the use of browsers to open websites. Only the apps of FB, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Blogger and all others whose icons are shown in the banner can be used. With the use of the browser disallowed, no links in the sites with usable apps can be opened. Promo users can browse and post comments at FB walls. The new Messenger can also be used so free texting among FB members is available.
  • Sub-Par Connection Speed – The promo did not promise faster connections and with more users, surfing using the free mobile Internet access could become unbearable to many netizens in some areas.
  • Unusable Search Results –  The Google Search app works but the results are of no use to free riders of the promo because they cannot open the links in them. This situation could be a very well pave the way to paid browsing if the user really intent to complete his research.

As I write this blog, there is an item in the online news that says Globe, the competing mobile Internet provider to PLDT, is seriously considering to relaunch their similar “Free FB” promo which ran for 6 months until early this year. Let us hope that the competition for free Internet access will become more intense for them to include the use of mobile browser, downloads, video streaming and internet calling in their promos. Not bad for the consuming public, if ever it happens.

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