Facebook’s Internet.org App Debuts in Southeast Asia with Smart’s Talk ‘N Text
To help bring the mobile Internet to all Filipinos, wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) through its value brand Talk ‘N Text, has partnered with Facebook to introduce the Internet.org app, offering a set of basic mobile internet services – including useful education, news, health, messaging and communication – without data charges.
For its initial phase, Internet.org app allows Filipinos to enjoy free access to a buffet of 24 websites featuring informative and practical content, including Facebook and Messenger, on their mobile phones.
Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative that aims to make 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 today’s 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.
“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.
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. This service is what we call ‘panalo’ or a ‘win’ for our subscribers, and embodies the brand’s celebration of life’s small victories every day,” 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.
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 successful 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.
Smart continues to have the largest and most advanced network in the Philippines today, with a total of 26,242 cellular/broadband base stations, including 11,083 active 4G/HSPA+/Long-Term Evolution (LTE) base stations supported by more than 90,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables around the country.