Globe and Smart Continue Free Internet Apps Wars

Globe President CEO ErnestCu joins leaders around the world during a dinner hosted by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Kneeling from left to right: Mario Zanotti, Senior EVP, Latin America, Millicom; Augie Fabela II, Vimpelcom; Javier Olivan, VP of Growth and Analytics, Facebook; Ernest Cu, CEO, Globe Telecom; Daniel Hajj Aboumrad, CEO, Telcel; Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO, Telenor; Dan Rose, VP for Partnerships, Facebook; Chris Daniels, VP of Business Development, Facebook.

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It must not be a fad anymore – using the Internet as a means to communicate with each other. You see, I’ve experienced the transition from telephone usage of bulky phone units (you can choose any color just as long as it’s black) to today’s smartphones. In the 80s, I used to call my girlfriend vacationing in the U.S. using those black dinosaurs for around 100 Pesos per minute, wreaking havoc with my parents who paid the bills. During that time, we still had a party line – kids, ask your parents what a party line is.

I also went through pagers, having two EasyCall units (why on earth I had two I can’t remember) and bought a Pocketbell version a few days after I got married – one each for me and my bride. Haha! Kids, ask you parents again what a pager is and how we communicated using a pager.

In the late 80s, we hooked up our dial-up modems in the office to our desktop PCs and dialed dedicated servers running BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), the precursor to the Internet. Oilers BBS was my favorite, which was hosted by Caltex Philippines in Manila. That’s where I first experienced my first computer-based chat, offsite file storage (now called a “cloud”), downloading documents and PC programs, and whole caboodle of computer stuff only geeks and nerds would understand.

In 1995, I subscribed to my very first ISP (internet service provider) with epic.net, the second ISP in the Philippines. It was hooked to my wife’s Pentium 1 desktop PC in her dental clinic using a 28.8kbps dial-up model and our e-mail address was pekson@epic.net using a client program. Browsing was through Netscape.com and Yahoo! was the prevalent search engine then.

This is also the time I started using IRCs (Internet Relay Chat). I was actually called “Tito Raffy” since most of the IRC users were in their teens and post-teens, and I was a 30-something married guy. LOL!

Calling the U.S. using a computer, headset and dial-up modem became free but painstakingly garbled and choppy. I remember dialpad.com being one of the first free services I kept using somewhere in the late 90s.

And so goes the evolution of the Internet as the medium for today’s personal and business communications, including voice calls. And everything precludes the title of my blog – is Facebook and other social media apps the best way for Telcos to make money? If it’s free, where will the revenue come from? Though the Philippines is today’s social media capital of the world, is social media the replacement to good ol’ telephone conversations?

Globe has forever been the pioneering Telco in Internet-based usagefree Facebook, free Viber, free Spotify and recently, inexpensive Hooq, the biggest video-on-demand service in the country for movie and TV streaming to-date. The other Telcos (well, isn’t there – again – just two remaining?) would follow suit with their own versions. Here is Globe’s press release to the ever-continuing media frenzy of who came first:

A recent whitepaper published by Globe and Facebook outlined how Globe’s efforts and massive investments to scale the necessary infrastructure for data usage (e.g., its massive 3G rollout), along with its drive to increase smartphone penetration, set the stage for a breakthrough in Internet penetration in the country. This breakthrough would come in the form of the “Free Facebook” campaign, which was launched in October 2013 for the first phase and again in October 2014 for the second phase.

The winner, of course, is the general public wanting to have more inexpensive or free access to social media, Internet-based calls, and streaming music and video which can both be played offline, too. The Millennials are today’s generation creating the demand for services beyond the traditional “call and text” service.

But here’s one thing many Facebook users do not do – subscribing to the Internet for a day or the entire month like I do. Because when push comes to shove, using an app like GrabTaxi comes in so handy especially during rush hour or places where empty taxis aren’t a common sight. I once used the service at 6:00PM, the height of rush hour time, in front of Starbucks 6750 in Makati City, where a swarm of people were trying to hail cabs. After ordering my taxi service with GrabTaxi, I called the driver to tell him what I was wearing and warned him so many people were waiting for cabs. He told me to walk a little further in front of Shangri-La Makati hotel so he could avoid those people. When he arrived right in front of me, a band of people started running towards us, angrily shouting why the taxi driver chose me instead of them. Good thing we were out of that place in five seconds flat!

The point being is this – why don’t you subscribe to the Internet and use an app like GrabTaxi? I mean, is 50 Pesos subscription to a day’s internet for your smartphone too much to ask when you can afford to pay a cab ride going home?

But I, for one, am not complaining about the means to mobile internet access. I am always online and have the following always on in my smartphones, laptops and tablet – Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Viber and Skype. I have my trusty ol’ 3Mbps Globe DSL at home (with a landline bundle) and a Globe Tattoo pocket WiFi subscribed at 50 Pesos per day or 999 Pesos per month, depending on my forecasted usage while being away from my SOHO (small office, home office). I also have another mobile phone subscribed to Smart because a self-employed person in the Philippines needs to have both services – it’s a disappointing fact in this country but it’s still a must. I subscribe to Smart’s Freedom Plan and usually choose a 200 Pesos a month plan for 1,000 text messages to all networks and 150MB data, enough for the usual social media stuff. I pay for a U.S. number $6 a month that’s connected to my Skype account. I probably spend $2 to $5 a month for phone calls to the U.S. My Globe prepaid goes well with on-demand unlimited calls to Globe numbers per day at 20 Pesos a pop. I also have GCash loaded into my prepaid. Once, I subscribed to a Vancouver, BC number from Globe’s DUO International for its promotional offer of $10 a month – free, unlimited calls from Vancouver straight to my Globe phone.

In today’s digital world where a Telco like Globe offers so much mobile communications options at the convenience of your fingertips, wouldn’t you find a way to manage the costs down to bare minimum where it’s now a “need” rather than a “nice to have?”

Everyone’s a winner – the general public, the digerati like myself, the Millennials, even both Globe and Smart. And the bigger question begets everything I wrote: Where does the Philippine government fit into all these?

Title photo from Globe Corporation Communications.

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One Response
  1. Kalin 4 months ago

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