You’ll remember that Facebook teamed up with Smart Communications for free use of Facebook on mobile devices. The free Facebook access on Smart phones is offered for long periods of time and it returns once in a while.
Now search giant Google is doing the same thing, but there are more products involved. Through a service called Google Free Zone, the company is offering free internet access to Google+, Gmail and Google Search. Google was quoted as saying that Free Zone is 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.” I understand that free access to Google+ will help the company enhance used and activity on the social networking site but the inclusion of free access to Gmail and Google Search is surprising and definitely makes Google Free Zone a very compelling offering.
So how do you get Google Free Zone and what are the limits to its use? Here are the main things you need to know about Google Free Zone.
- Basically you have to be using a SIM card from Globe Telecom. The idea is to give free internet access to users so you don’t need a data plant to use Free Zone and you don’t have to be connected to the internet via 3G or Edge or GPRS.
- Google Free Zone can be used on most mobile phones with internet capability, so that covers feature phones and even smartphones. It cannot be used on computers. Free Zone is actually optimized for feature phones but it also works with smartphones like Android phones and iPhones.
- You can access Free Zone using only your phone’s default browser. It will not work on third-party browsers.
- To access Free Zone, you will need a Google Account and you need to go to http://g.co/freezone.
- You are not charged if you click on a link on a search results page on Google Search. However, if you click on a link within that particular website, you will be charged but you will first see a warning page with the option to sign up for a data plan. Every time you click on a link in the search results page it is free. There are no limits on the amount of searches you can make.
- On Google+ and Gmail, clicking on a link or attachment or a photo, you will be charged but again, you will be notified first.
- The use of Google Free Zone is not forever. On Google’s FAQ page, it says that “you will be notified about any changes to Free Zone’s pricing structure by your mobile operator ahead of time.”
I can see Free Zone being successful. Google Search and Gmail are among the most used products today and Free Zone will definitely provide the basic internet experience to the masses. The other good news about Free Zone is that it is being offered by Google in the Philippines first. Currently, it is not available in other countries. It is expected, however, that the service will be offered in other countries as well. Right now, the Philippines gets the honor of having to try Free Zone exclusively.
For more info on Google Free Zone, visit this page.