Globe Telecom in the Philippines is offering access to the Web and select Google services on Internet-enabled mobile phones without any data charges.
The telco has launched ‘Free Zone‘ powered by Google for Globe Prepaid and TM subscribers, giving them easy and instant access to Google Search, Gmail, and Google+ on feature phones and smartphones at no cost via libre.ph. Users need a Google account to sign up.
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The service is aimed at first-time mobile Internet users who often find basic services like e-mail, mobile web browsing and social applications expensive. The service limits their subscription to mobile surfing plans and bundles.
In places where data is expensive users with basic Internet-enabled devices can use the Web to grow their businesses or keep in touch with friends and family without the fear of unknown data costs.
With the new mobile Internet promo, Globe is initially offering access to around 30 million Globe Prepaid and TM subscribers nationwide until March 31, 2013.
The versions of Google Search, Gmail and Google+ on Free Zone are designed to work well with feature phones that lack the tech of a smartphone. Google built the software and Globe became the first operator to make it work on its network. This means that the Philippines the first place in the world to use this new product.
“The open Web is only as open as it is affordable. We wanted to make search available to as many people as possible. But a free search result isn’t much good if you can’t then go to the Web site,” said AbdelKarim Mardini, Product Manager at Google.
“So we decided to make all those Web sites available as part of the package as well. We’re hoping Free Zone will make the mobile Internet feel like a necessity that everyone can use rather than a luxury,” he says.
Users can search the Web and access the first page of websites from the results without getting charged. If they click further, users are directed to a page where they can subscribe to a data plan to continue. But for as long as they stay within the Free Zone, charging will not take place.
Even without a data plan, users can still send and receive text emails while on the go via Gmail. Uploading and downloading attachments carry corresponding data charges.
Methods of getting costs down for mobile Internet access and creating simpler ways for inexperienced users to get online are spreading. Earlier today we reported that Opera has launched its Web Pass to lower the barrier to entry and of course Facebook Zero is designed to free up critical bandwidth for mobile networks and reduce the amount of data consumed.
Those Globe subscribers who are interested in signing up, can text LIBRE to 8888 or visit the Libre website for more details.
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