#SmartFreeInternet: Free mobile Internet for Smart, Sun, TNT prepaid subscribers launched

Alora Uy Guerrero
Editor. You may tweet her at @aloraguerrero.
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(UPDATED) What if Philippine telcos say they will give you free mobile Internet? Sounds crazy, right? Wrong. Smart Communications, Sun Cellular, and Talk ‘N Text prepaid subscribers—all 66 million of them—will get to enjoy two months of free Internet starting today, September 26, according to Manny V. Pangilinan, chairman of Smart and its parent company, PLDT.

This turned out to be the “very important announcement” he teased on Twitter two days ago.

“We aim to unlock the value of the Internet to the prepaid market, which is 90 percent of our users,” Pangilinan said.

He added: “Out of all smartphones used today, only a third use the Internet. And 30 percent phones shipped are smartphones. We now want to democratize data and give users access to the Internet.”

Prepaid users who have at least P1 balance in their account will have free access to mobile Internet. That means you—assuming you’re eligible—can shop online, read news on Yahoo, search for information, send and receive emails, use navigation apps like Waze, stream music, and update your Flickr or Tumblr account at any time.

But won’t this affect their network?

MVP at the #SmartFreeInternet presser

Pangilinan assured that they are ready to handle the traffic. “We are prepared,” he said.

The service is not without its limits. Before you go crazy on your “online spree,” better read this:

* The offer is not unlimited. You have free data volume package of up to 30MB per day, which Pangilinan said is more than enough for the average user. You don’t have to worry, though. Once you’ve used up your free allowance, you’ll hit a pay wall, giving you a choice of whether you want to buy Internet packages.

* It excludes the following:
- downloading, streaming, and watching of videos (so no to YouTube and the like, sorry)
- using of VOIP apps like FaceTime, Skype, and Viber, Tango
- accessing of messaging apps like Line, KakaoTalk, and WhatsApp
- taking advantage of peer-to-peer file-sharing sites and apps like Bittorrent

Regular data charges will apply if you ever do those, remember that.

* The special offer is good until November 30, 2014. But there’s a ray of sunshine here: It may get extended depending on its success.

* It is not available for roaming.

How do you avail yourself of the free service?

Just register by sending FREE to 9999. Take note that you have to do that every day.

So who’s now saying that the idea of telcos giving free Internet access is crazy?

UPDATE: This is Globe's answer to MVP's announcement today.

Got questions? Violent reactions? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us at @aloraguerrero.