Initiative To Provide Free Internet Access In The Philippines Launched By Facebook Founder

By Daniel Feliciano - Millions of Filipinos have a reason to be happy and enthusiastic today, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of the social networking site Facebook. The tech titan just announced on his official Facebook page the launching of the initiative in the Philippines. is a campaign started and led by Facebook, the main goal of which is to bring internet connectivity to as many parts of the globe as possible.

Statistics show that only one out of three people in the world has access to internet services. This basically means two-thirds of the world's population are not in the loop. The project's website cites several reasons why this is the case - expensive devices, expensive connection plans, limited mobile networks, unavailability of content in local languages, doubts about the value of the internet, limited power sources, and inability of networks to support immense data traffic.

In his announcement (which was accompanied by a photo of a tricycle), Zuckerberg wrote, "We're one step closer to connecting the world as we launched in the Philippines today. Now everyone in the country can have free access to internet services for health, education, jobs and communication on the Smart network."

To be able to avail of the free online access being offered by the project, you need to be a subscriber of either Smart, Talk N' Text, or Sun Cellular. These telcos are the official local partners of the project.

There are two ways on how you can avail of the free services. One: using your mobile phone browser, text INTERNET to 9999. Two: download the application from the Google Play app store.

Of course, as the case always with free web services, there are limitations to the project. First of all, don't expect fast connectivity. But it's free so you have nothing to lose.

And here's the greatest drawback of the project - the websites you can use are very limited. Here in the Philippines, some of the more well-known sites you can gain access to are Facebook (of course), Jobstreet, Wikipedia, Bing, Inquirer and Rappler. The other available sites are ones that most Filipinos don't use. Yes, the initiative doesn't carry Google (the most valuable website in the universe). Bummer. But this is understandable given the fact that Facebook (the leader of the initiative) always had Bing as its search engine partner.

But free is free. It's better than nothing. So thanks a million, Mr. Zuckerberg. To learn more about the initiative, visit their website here. Other countries who are recipients of the free services are Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, and India.