Google has launched a service in conjunction with Filipino mobile operator Globe Telecom that will allow free Internet access geared around Google products such as search, Gmail and its Google + social network.
“It’s aimed at the next billion users of the Internet, many of whom will be in emerging markets and encounter the Internet first on a mobile phone , without ever owning a PC,” AbdelKarim Mardini, product manager for Google, told Reuters.
Google says the service – known as ‘Free Zone’ – will be rolled out to other markets soon.
Globe Telecom is the second-largest operator in the Philippines with an estimated 33 million subscribers, though many only use their phones for voice calls and SMS.
According to Reuters, users are able to access websites that show up in Google’s search results for free, but any website outside those results would prompt an invitation to subscribe to one of the mobile operator’s data plans.
Although smartphones sales are rising rapidly in the Philippines they account for less than a quarter of all devices – and Google said Free Zone would work with ‘basic phones.’