In a regular series, Mobile World Live‘s Asia Editor Joseph Waring provides a regional roundup of news snippets:

Smart launches ultra-cheap internet
Smart Communications is introducing an ultra-low-cost data plan this month that will give Philippine prepaid customers internet access for ten minutes for just 1 peso ($0.022).

Mobile subscribers can use apps and websites, but access to video streaming and file-sharing sites is restricted.

The service, PisoNet, will be initially be offered to Smart’s Talk ’N Text subscribers and is lower than the standard rate of PHP5 ($0.11) for 15 minutes.

Mobile data usage has grown by 73 per cent from last year, said Charles Lim, head of Smart’s wireless consumer division. He expects the service to create further momentum for its data business.

Lim said PisoNet will be delivered through a “pioneering mobile internet platform that enables network resources to be used more efficiently” to deliver the internet services.

“This is the holy grail for internet advocates who want to bridge the digital divide while sustaining quality of service,” said Dennis Mendiola, cofounder of Smart subsidiary Chikka, which developed the platform. “We’ve taken one big stab at it, using this platform targeted at one of the largest prepaid markets in the world.”

Bangladesh adds 1% tax to mobile services
Bangladesh plans to add a 1 per cent surcharge on mobile phone services to fund rural education. The increase pushes the VAT on all types of mobile usage to 16 per cent. The government had previously debated a 2 per cent surcharge as well as a 1 per cent tax on handsets, but those proposals were not passed.

Ooredoo, Indosat select 8 for startup accelerator
Ooredoo and Indosat have launched the second round of a startup accelerator and selected eight startups to participate in a four-month programme.

Ideabox invited 18 finalists, from a pool of 300 applicants, to a 48-hour boot camp in Jakarta.

The intensive acceleration programme provides mentoring, seed funding, facilities, a structured curriculum and access to a network of local and international startup founders and advisors. After graduation, the startups receive support from Indosat and Ooredoo, which includes commercial partnerships, co-location, payment integration and mobile advertising support to help them access millions of Indonesian mobile customers.

Telkom takes 25% stake in Tiphone
Telkom Indonesia will complete its purchase of a 25 per cent stake in mobile phone distributor Tiphone for INR1.4 trillion ($117 million) this week. Telkom, via a subsidiary, is buying about 1.75 billion shares in two transactions.

Tiphone was set up in 2008 as a distributor of mobiles phones and prepaid phone cards. Its revenue in the first half of the year increased 40 per cent to INR6.31 trillion.

Telenor expands 3G footprint in Pakistan
Telenor will expand its 3G coverage in Pakistan from 19 cities to 32 by the end of the month. Telenor Pakistan has a 26 per cent market share with 36.5 million connections. Less than 1 per cent of its subscribers have 3G service.