Smart, Facebook offer free Internet
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - March 23, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Subscribers of Talk ‘N Text, Smart, and Sun Cellular can now access a suite of mobile Internet services for free through Facebook’s app, which made its Southeast Asian debut in the Philippines last Wednesday.

Subscribers with a data-capable device can access Facebook, Facebook Messenger plus 22 other websites — providing news, health, weather, and other services – by downloading the application on Google Play or visiting on their mobile browser. They can get more information by texting INTERNET to 9999.

Facebook partnered with Smart Communications Inc. to introduce the app to Filipinos, as part of its efforts to make mobile Internet services available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected.

 Subscribers can now access general information on, Bing,, wikiHow, and Wikipedia; get news updates from PhilStar, Inquirer, Interaksyon, and Rappler; get sports updates via ESPN and SPIN.PH; check the weather and climate through AccuWeather and RainCheckPH; and read book and stories through Wattpad.

They can also check out free programs and training on the official website of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); check employment opportunities on Jobstreet; sell items on; gain financial literacy via PesosandSense and; learn about women’s health, pregnancy and childcare in sites like BabyCenter & MAMA and Girl Effect; and access health  and hygiene information on UNICEF’s Facts for Life.

“We are excited about the impact the availability of these services will create across the country,” said Facebook director for global operator partnerships Markku Makelainen. He added that so far, more than 500 million people in seven countries (Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India, Zambia, and the Philippines) can now access relevant information without data charges via

Charles Lim, Smart executive vice president and head of the wireless consumer business, said the value brand Talk ‘N Text is spearheading efforts in the Philippines, as it is “best positioned to reach the people and communities who remain digitally disconnected.”

“By bridging the digital divide, by providing access to useful information and services, Internet access can help people transform their lives. As we say in Talk ‘N Text: Panalo ang may alam. The well-informed are winners,” he added.

“Free access to news will help breed an informed society. An informed society will help us make better choices, hopefully leading us to a better way of life,” said chief operating officer Rose Anne Belmonte.

“We are committed to improving people’s lives by making our timely, informative, and localized weather forecasts available for all people everywhere to help them plan and prepare for weather situations,” said AccuWeather chief digital officer Steven Smith.

 Smart president and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno said the company’s partnership with Facebook is a welcome boost to its “Internet for All” campaign, which includes the launch of services like SmartNet, PowerApp, Piso Net, and the Free Internet promo.

“For Smart, democratizing access to technology is part of our DNA.  We led the way in helping put a cell phone in the hands of most Filipinos.  Now, we aim to do the same thing for the power of the Internet,” Nazareno said. “Combined with the availability of affordable smartphones and data plans and the continuous rollout of network infrastructure, Smart, together with the rest of the PLDT group, is ensuring that more and more people will be able to access the Internet.”

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