Smart’s Freedom Plan: Postpaid Plan Redefined

Who wants complete freedom with a postpaid plan that starts from ZERO, has no monthly fees, has no lock-in period and does not require the presentation of documents before you can be given a subscriber line?

That’s what Smart is offering to prepaid subscribers now with its Freedom Plan.

My Smart Freedom Plan sim

For the next few months, I will be testing out this plan.

The facts: I’m a prepaid subscriber on both Globe and Smart (and I used to be one with Sun too). Many friends ask me why I have stayed prepaid all these years although I was a postpaid subscriber when I was still fully employed. I tell them that with prepaid, I can monitor my mobile spending based on how much I load (very important for one with no full-time job and is on a tight budget). I have the freedom to choose what telco and even what plan I will enroll in from day to day (I use my home wifi most times and only need internet when I am mobile). I am free of bill shock risk. When they tell me that postpaid subscribers get a free phone, I just shrug and tell them that the phone I want usually comes with a monthly plan (which is too inflexible for what I need) so I’d rather just buy the phone I really want and use a prepaid sim.

I really enjoy my prepaid freedom and won’t just give it up and be tied to a network or postpaid plan unless I enjoy the same or better flexibility I now enjoy as a prepaid mobile user.

So when Smart invited me to try out their Freedom Plan, I agreed to give it a test run. Here’s what the Freedom Plan is all about.

Key Features

* No fixed monthly fees (you start from ZERO)
* No lock-in period (you just get the SIM. No phones are bundled with the plan.)
* No documents to submit if you stay within the default credit limit
* No bill shock – Each SIM is ready with a P600 credit limit. You can mix/match the plan’s  “postpaid buckets” for the month until you reach P600.

Available Postpaid Buckets

You can use a combination of any of available postpaid buckets (up to the credit limit of P600) in any month, depending on your planned usage. Just use the corresponding keyword and send to 9990.

For example, you decide to choose this combination:

Trio Talk 150 + All Text 200 = 150 minutes of Tri-net (Smart, Sun, Talk ‘N Text) calls + 2,000 texts to all networks + 150MB internet surfing

That will only cost you P350. Since you’re well within the P600 monthly limit, you can still avail of another postpaid bucket worth P250 within the month.

What if you are close to or hit P600 limit before month is over? 

You can do either of the following;

1. Pay what you have already used up so you can free up the credit limit and allow you to subscribe to more buckets. Payment is available in many ways: through Smart Store, online banking, Smart Money, etc.
2. You can always apply for a higher monthly limit. Smart will just require some additional documentation from you.

Rates when not on Postpaid Buckets

When you are not subscribed to any of the Freedom Plan postpaid buckets, the following rates will apply:

Voice calls per minute (to Smart, Talk ‘N Text – P6.50
Voice calls per minute (to other networks) – P7.50
SMS/MMS to all networks – P1.00/SMS
IDD per minute (to any country) – US$ 0.40
International texts (to any country) – P10.00/SMS
Mobile surfing – P10 for every 30 minutes

Current Promo for New Freedom Plan Subscribers

For new Freedom Plan Subscribers up to January 15, 2013, you can enjoy a 10% rebate on the first 6 months of your subscription under the following conditions:

1. You have a paid bill of at least P300
2. You paid your previous month’s bill completely

Rebate is applied on your next bill.

How to Apply

1. Just visit any Smart Store.
2. Present just one valid school or company ID.
3. Pay a P250 application fee.
4. You get your Smart Freedom SIM on the spot. Within 24 hours, you can begin availing of the Freedom Plan.

While the initial target market of the Freedom Plan is yuppies in their 20s to early 30s, on a tight budget because they are just establishing their careers, I already see that there are other markets that will want this kind of plan. Senior citizens who may be living on pension are also on a tight budget and want to stretch their load and cap it at a predictable amount.

I am eager to test this plan for several months and see how this would fit the budget needs of my own kids, some of whom are fresh out of college and fall within this target market.

How does the Freedom Plan sound to you? 


Smart launches its All-Net postpaid plans with an amazing race

I’ve been on prepaid status with two of the mobile carriers since I left the corporate world. It has served me well because I could not fit my new mobile usage and lifestyle into any of the postpaid plans being offered then. Some were inflexible and offered call and text quantities that I knew I would not use. I did not want to be pegged to a fixed monthly fee which I could not maximize.

The invitation to join Smart’s All-Net Amazing Race (while being introduced to its new All-Net offerings under its All-In plans made me curious and interested to join. I wondered if, this time, I would have a clear alternative to just remaining a prepaid subscriber forever. Of course, the other motivator in this whole amazing race thing (as this was my first ever amazing race) was the fact that my teammate was my own dear friend, Noemi. Also in our team dubbed the “Yellow team” were Ryan (another blogger friend) and Marlon (who I just met that day).

The tasks given to us were physically challenging. We had to bungee jump to get some phone numbers hanging from a tree (that task was assigned to Marlon, the tallest in our team). Then we had to call 3 numbers from those papers and show the call logs to the game marshal to get the next task.

(Marlon did such a great job on this one. I would have been an epic fail.)
Noemi, by stroke of luck, had just finished reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Y, the
very unit given to our team, so she was our designated texter.

Ryan makes the calls.

Task 2 was to run to Timezone and rack up a certain number of points on a dance machine, after which we had to text (and receive responses from) 5 random friends to get Task 3.

Texting frenzy…

Task 3 required us to look for a living statue at City Walk Two. By chance, I was in that very mall area just before the event buying a sports top so I knew exactly where to run to. We had to call someone from the living statue post to read out one of the Smart All-Net Postpaid Plans features.

The living statue and our task

Task 4 made us go on a shopping spree with a limited budget of P1,200. Luckily we saw Graffiti Tee which had tees on sale for P250 each. We grabbed our sizes, got the next task and ran out. Task 5 had us calling a Hong Kong number to get a password. Task 6 made us run back to Eastwood Mall, look for the Smart dog (which was the same dog I saw hanging around the Smart tent earlier) and guess its breed. We all thought it was a German Shepherd (wrong!!!). Its master was instructed not to tell us its breed but fast-thinking Ryan asked people around – and it turned out to be a bullmastiff. We had to go online using our team phone to show the marshal the flag of the dog’s origin to get Task 7 (to assemble a puzzle) back at the Smart tent.

The clincher (Task 8) was to use another carrier’s billing statement and compute the savings if the same call minutes and number of texts were used on an All-Net postpaid plan. Thanks to an accounting training which included doing math without a calculator, my brain went full blast. Yes, our team was the first to finish all the tasks. We won first place! And for that, each one of us got — an HTC Wildfire S!

After the rush of the amazing race, Noemi and I lingered (because we also had to wind down and catch our breath from all the running) to talk with the Smart people. The tasks that they made us do actually was an introduction to just how much one can save with an All-Net postpaid plan:

* All-In plans beat out other plans because conventional plans tie you to a monthly FIXED fee for a certain combination of call minutes, text messages and internet use, whether you actually use them up or not. Value-added services outside your plan are billed to you ON TOP OF your monthly fee. All-in plans are just that, all in. What you subscribe to is what you pay, nothing more.

* You can tailor-fit your All-In plan from month to month. There are different mix-and-match services like Unlitalk, Unlitext, Unlisurf and IDD calls. Read more on All-In Plans HERE.

* All-Net plans are the latest services under the All-In plans.

* With Smart Postpaid All-Net Talk, subscribers can cut their postpaid call charges in half because this feature gives you 80 minutes of calls to ALL NETWORKS for only P250 for 30 days. That comes out to only P3.12 per minute compared to P7.50 per minute with other providers.

* With Smart Postpaid All-Net Text, you get 2,500 text messages to ALL NETWORKS for only P350 for 30 days. That is only P0.14 per SMS instead of the standard P1.00 per SMS charged by other networks.

* Data services under the Smart Postpaid All-In Plans also give the widest range of data volume on demand, from 25MB to 2GB.

* With the IDD bundle saver, you can make international calls at local rates, plus 5 minutes free for only P200.

Right now, I am already a frequent user of Smart’s Always On data plans for my ipad because I need to be connected all the time when out of the house. Now, with Smart’s All-Net Postpaid Plans, I will study carefully my usage for calls, texts and internet to see if it will save me more money compared to my current mobile costs.

I discovered that my Wildfire S could be turned into a personal hotspot. An All-In Postpaid Plan would mean cheaper calls and texts and if I activate the hotspot, I could share my internet connection from my phone to my ipad. That’s a lot of potential savings!

What about you? Do you think the All-Net Plans are worth your second look?


Netphone: Smart’s affordable smartphone

While smartphone prices have already been on the decline, making it affordable to more and more people, there is still a great majority of Filipinos whose mobiles are not internet-capable. This is true despite the Philippines being recognized not only as the texting capital of the world but also the world’s online social networking champ. Almost everyone I’ve asked has a Facebook account. A friend of mine even has a yaya (nanny) who’s got a Facebook account.

Recognizing these patterns, Smart designed its own brand of an internet-ready phone and tailor-fitted its features and apps to the Pinoy’s lifestyle and preferences. At a media launch recently, I was introduced to the Netphone, Smart’s offering for those who are budget-conscious but love to get on the internet and engage on social media.

By September 10, the public will be formally introduced to Smart’s very own brand of internet-capable phones via Netphone 701 (which I hear is a ZTE model). It is only the first model to come out, with other higher-end models being planned in the coming months.

Netphone 701 is an Android-powered phone, running on Froyo (ver. 2.2). This was my first time to play around with an Android handset but I noted that the initial apps loaded on it were pretty good. An FM radio, a Bible app, and even my favorite Docs To Go app was loaded in it. It’s got 2 cameras. The back camera is 3.2MP while the front cam is a VGA one. It was pretty light, something I’d always appreciate in a phone. Colors were quite vivid. This handset also allows you to turn your phone into a hotspot and it supports Flash 10.1. It has a 3.5″ touchscreen and runs on a 600MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Not being familiar with the menus, I was trying to find out if the phone had wifi or ran on 3G only. Yup, the Netphone is good for both wifi and 3G. 

So far, we’ve seen features of an Android phone. Now what appears to set this Netphone apart from other smartphones in the market today?
Smart Center – Just a swipe and you can see your load’s balance. A few more touches and you can manage your Smart account, subscribe to call, text, data packages, and see any subscription’s expiry date/time. There’s no need anymore to memorize the text format for subscribing to any of these packages. As soon as new promos and offers are available, your phone’s info is updated.
SmartNet – this is a proprietary layer of software built on top of Android that allows social networking (Facebook and Twitter) and chatting (Yahoo Messenger) without having to spend a peso. And no matter how many status messages or chats you post, it does not eat up your load. Just one peso on your phone will still make all these work. 
Watch this video.

Now, you’re asking how much, right? Well, the prepaid phone kit costs PhP9,990 (very affordable compared to other Android handsets) but it is FREE when you get a postpaid Datalite plan at P800 (access to select sites) or a regular postpaid plan at P1200.
For those with a limited budget and have been holding off on purchasing a smartphone, the Smart Netphone may just be something to consider.

PLDT-Smart opens Jump Experience Center at Megamall

There’s a new place you should not miss when you’re at SM Megamall. PLDT and Smart just opened JUMP, its new Experience Center to showcase the PLDT Group’s latest devices, services and technologies. And it is a fun place for the entire family, for all ages.

Bloggers were able to experience what you’d see when you go to JUMP. Here’s a schematic of the entire place.

1. Jump Avatar
The first thing that greets you at the entrance is the Jump Avatar station. On one of three large touchscreens, I was able to go through a series of questions like what type of personality I had, type of music, etc. My face, superimposed on a facial shape, plus my answers, were used to generate a dancing avatar. Then using the same touchscreen, I entered my email so that my avatar could be sent to me. Here’s how my final avatar looked:

The interactive touchscreens also allows visitors to explore the various promos and services.

2. Springboard

Looking like a conference room with tables and chairs, Springboard is a private space where workshops will be held to educate consumers on the hottest gadgets, promos and services; training sessions on using the gadgets being offered; and is being made available to developers, bloggers and other tech groups for meet-ups, tweet-ups and tech-related meetings. Even students will love to come visit!

3. Customer Service/Jump Squad

This section is where customers can get assistance from a squad of men and women who are tasked to render service.

4. Panorama

A full 82 inches of an interactive, multi-touch screen allows you to navigate through various menus to learn about the PLDT Group, the services, the handsets and something that will excite kids and adults alike…

A-N-G-R-Y  B-I-R-D-S!!!!!

Bloggers were invited to try the game out on the humongous screen. Here’s Flow’s winning form.

5. Arena

Aptly called, this area is for those who not only want to explore products, services and gadgets/handsets but also want to play. Two multi-touch screens mounted so that they look like table tops are on each end of the Arena. Capable of accommodating 32 fingers (equivalent to 4 people using it simultaneously), JUMP visitors can spend time playing games on it with friends.

A raised, circular dais in the Arena also features pedestals showing the latest handsets and gadgets which you can try out. The dais also serves as a place for events and comfortable upholstered stools and couches in candy colors scattered in front of the dais make a comfortable setting for visitors.

6. Solutions Zone
This area is divided into 2 sections: the Home Zone and Enterprises Solutions. Featured in the Home Zone is a wide range of home solutions (landline, internet, entertainment). In Enterprise Solutions, different applications and gadgets you need for a large or small business can be found here.
Home Solutions
Enterprise Solutions
PLDT Watcher lets you monitor your store much like a CCTV,
even when you are away
Rewards management system – a standalone utility
to help you manage your rewards system

7. Mobile Zone, Internet Zone, International Zone
In these 3 zones, you get to hold, use and ask questions about the mobile handsets, internet services and international options to connect you and your family even when you’re countries apart.
Mobile Zone

International Zone

8. Jump Billboard
Four tall screens feature the Center Map, product commercials, Springboard registration as well as JUMP events.
Finally, availing yourself of PLDT and Smart services, plans and gadgets need not be painful. At the JUMP Center, the whole family can do something interactively while you all wait in comfort.
Jump Center
4/F Cyberzone, Bldg. B
SM Megamall
Ortigas Center
Pasig City

High-Speed Smart LTE 4G Technology is Coming!

Download movies in minutes. Download songs in seconds. Watch an HD YouTube video without buffering. Seriously.

Am I excited, am I excited? You bet I am! Because I got to hold in my hands the device and watched a demo showing that the upcoming Smart LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G technology can do all that. And all I can say is — IT’S WICKED FAST!

The LTE dongle – from the front…

…and from the back

A few of us bloggers were invited to sit down with some of Smart’s executives from their networking and marketing divisions and here is what we learned.

Info # 1 – The LTE infrastructure will be totally separate from all existing infrastructure.

Unlike all previous technologies at Smart that are built on top of each other, the LTE technology will sit on an infrastructure separately built from the ground up specifically to handle very large amounts of data from LTE subscribers. 
Info # 2 – LTE can go up to 100 MBPS

At present, actual download speeds are up to 70 MBPS according to Smart. But theoretically, the technology can handle up to 100 MBPS. Just look at that chart. The current 3G standard is only 2 MBPS. That places LTE at 35x the current 3G standard! And it is so much faster than most DSL and cable services being offered at present.
Info # 3 – Field trial results show LTE leaving old technology behind by a wide margin

The low latency connection makes LTE ideal for viewing streaming videos and engaging in other media-rich online activities such as gaming and accessing web-based applications and programs. Gamers and those in data-intensive tasks will thoroughly enjoy this as they say goodbye to lag time.
Info # 4 – LTE will be introduced late 2011 in major cities
First introduced in Boracay last April, some of my blogger friends were able to test its speed onsite. Smart plans to roll this out and test it in major cities, Metro Manila included. But I think only select cities in Metro Manila will be pilot areas.
Test Results
At the demo area of Dusit Thani Hotel, we were shown speed test results. Of course, there is nothing like a real stress test under more normal conditions (and I am looking forward to participating, if one like that is conducted) but even if you discount the fact that the setup was done under ideal conditions and the ping server was only in Cebu City and not in some server in the US, LTE was still incredibly fast! See the results we got…

Speedtest results on Noemi’s iPhone 4
If you’re asking me what the downside of going LTE is for now? You will need an LTE-enabled mobile phone to take advantage of the technology. Sorry folks. All our 3G mobile phones are not eligible. I am holding out hope that the soon-to-be-released iPhone 5 is LTE-enabled because that’s the next phone I am considering.
I asked how much such a service would cost but Smart could not answer for now. But I believe they will make it price-competitive.
High-speed internet is on the horizon and it looks like the pioneer in the Philippines will be Smart as they plan to introduce this service in late 2011. Several companies in other parts of the world have already rolled their LTE services out such as NTT DoCoMo in Japan, Verizon in the USA, TeliaSonera in Europe and Telstra in Australia. In Asia, Smart is ahead of its peers.
Read more about Smart LTE in Smart’s press release HERE.

How (and how not) to activate a prepaid Smart Bro micro sim on the ipad

When I got my 3G iPad last year, there were no prepaid micro sims available yet at Globe or Smart so I went to one of the stalls in Theater Mall, Greenhills where they charged me P100 to cut up a standard Smart Buddy sim to micro sim size.

I discovered that Smart had this smart feature called Web Connect.

You register the sim online, fill up some info about yourself, assign a password, a TPIN (optional) and you were good to go. Web Connect allowed you to inquire about your sim balance, avail of promo packages, and get technical help when needed.

For several months, I was happy. I’d use the Pasaload feature to load up my iPad whenever i needed to go 3G. But when carriers began offering prepaid plans with unlimited surfing for a day, a week and a month, I realized that being charged P20/hour was getting costly, especially since I needed to be online whenever I was out of the house.

Mistake # 1 – Wrong Sim

When the Smart system detects that your sim is a Smart Buddy, you only see call/text promo packages on your Web Connect account! So all that time, I thought an ipad could never avail of unlimited surfing packages and had to be content with hourly rates. Yun pala, I had the wrong sim! It had to be Smart Bro!

So last week, off I went to Smart Wireless Center and purchased another sim, costing only P40. This time, I made sure it was a Smart Bro prepaid micro sim.

Mistake # 2 – Registering on Web Connect via Web

As I’m always wifi-connected at home, it was just natural for me to register on Web Connect while on my home network. Apparently, Smart’s system requires that you register by being on 3G AND using the iPad’s micro sim. Otherwise, your Smart Bro packages and other promos don’t show up on your account’s screen.

I learned this the hard way and had to communicate with @SmartCares (Smart’s Twitter account). They had to refresh my micro sim so I could register again.

I think I successfully activated my micro sim because last I checked, I could already see the Smart Bro packages for unlimited surfing options.

Just one last hirit (my suggestion) for Smart people.

The iPad has no texting function unlike a smartphone where you text a given format to subscribe to unlimited surfing. The way the Smart system is now, it appears that you need to first connect to Smart using your 3G connection (which means you get charged P10 just to connect). Then you choose an unlimited surfing option, say the P50 unlimited surfing for one day. So in effect, I get charged P60 instead of what should just have been P50 had I subscribed on a smartphone.

Can Smart please find a workaround so I can register for surfing options via wifi on Web Connect instead of spending P10 just to connect via 3G? Anyway, the account requires a password so no one else can enter the account and register for a surfing option and other packages.


Send SMS within the Philippines with Gmail

Chatting using the computer has been around for some time now. This technology has allowed people to communicate without having to pick up a phone or call/text using a mobile phone. The drawback though was that both parties had to be online and both had to be on Gmail.

Now, Gmail makes it even easier to contact friends via their mobile phones. You can send FREE SMS to a friend from within your Gmail account.
I took this screencap from Gmail’s site:
(click on image to enlarge)

1. Log into your Gmail account. In the Send SMS box above Chat, enter the phone number you want to send a SMS to.

2. In the dialog box, enter Contact name of the SMS recipient and check that country and phone number are correct. Then, click Save.

3.Type your message in the chat window and hit Enter.

4.Your message will be sent to the phone number you entered.

When your contact replies to your SMS, it appears on your Chat window, which is great because your exchange is saved as chats in your Chat History, just like ordinary chats.

Any messages you send or receive from Gmail are FREE. Your contact, on a mobile phone, also gets your SMS free but the reply from phone to Gmail will be charged a regular SMS rate by the mobile provider.

This is good news for those who are online at work or at home. Best example: ME!!!

Now I need not pay SMS charges and still be able to contact my family and friends on their mobile. You can do the same from work. Well, that is if Gmail is not blocked in the office. 🙂

If you already have a Gmail account, you can log in right now and try it. If you still don’t have Gmail, create an account now.

NOTE: SMS with Gmail is available as of now only for Smart and Sun Cellular subscribers.

Read about Gmail SMS HERE.


Smart Bro’s Broadbandest Blowout is here!

Shortly after the recent Japan quake struck, our internet connection began to suffer. When I say suffer, I mean really painful, tortuous suffering. You see, we have a 3Mbps plan with this broadband company and even if I had my entire brood online, we never had serious problems with speed. As an active blogger, I could still happily surf the net for my writing tasks while keeping up with my social network contacts. My kids could still do research for their academic requirements while watching YouTube videos.

But up to this time, we are lucky to get even a 1Mbps speed constantly during the day. At night, when everyone is online, our internet speed would drop to dial-up speeds (as slow as 0.12 Mbps). I’ve not had speeds like that since maybe the early 2000’s! And to top it all, there was one day this week when our internet connection totally conked out! What was I to do?

Guess what saved the day, at least for me — my SmartBro dongle!!!

I topped up my prepaid SmartBro number with enough load and subscribed to UNLISURF50. That gave me unlimited internet connection for one whole day!

This really got me thinking that subscribing to just one broadband carrier may no longer be sufficient. There is a need for a backup carrier. The kids and I cannot afford to have the internet down because my work is primarily online and they have a lot of schoolwork online too. And truthfully, I think we will all have withdrawal symptoms if we go without the internet even for just one day. Hahaha…

Now is the time to seriously look at what could be Smart Bro’s grandest, biggest bang-for-the-bucks broadband blowout. 

Smart Bro’s Unlimited Home Broadband Plan is available for either Php 999 or Php 1995. And that’s not all. You get the following ABSOLUTELY FREE just for subscribing to either of these two plans:

1. FREE All-in-One HP Printer 
2. FREE Call & Texts with SMART Gold Lite Plan 300 for 6 months subscription
3. FREE 1-month broadband subscription

You get consistent and stable surfing speed, unlimited internet connection and all these freebies to boot!

This summer, I’m seriously going to look at these unlimited broadband plans. My kids and I have come to depend so much on internet connection that we really cannot afford to do without it on a daily basis. The kind of unexpected disaster wrought by the Japan quake tells me that it is always good to have alternatives. Smart Bro gave me the internet connection I needed when my other broadband carrier failed to deliver. I think it will continue to come to our rescue down the road.

That is a big thumbs-up for me!

If you are like me, an avid internet user, and most of all, if you’ve got internet-savvy kids who will climb the wall if the internet is disrupted even for a few hours, you need to look at Smart Bro’s summer promo and avail of the cool freebies. I bet you need that HP printer like I do to replace my 3-year old HP inkjet printer.

Check out Smart Bro’s Broadbandest Blowout. This promo runs from March 4 to June 4, 2011. You can find additional details on this promo at the Smart website. Just click HERE.

Per DTI-NCR Permit No. 1871, Series of 2011.

(Note this serves as my entry to Smart Bro’s Broadbandest Blowout blogger contest.)


Pacquiao-Cotto Fight Live Streaming on Sandbox

Pacquiao Sotto on Sandbox

 The Pacquiao-Cotto fight will be streamed LIVE on Sunday, November 15, via Smart’s Sandbox. I will be out of the house around this time so this is good news. I plan to bring my Macbook with me and hopefully, get to follow the games. Am sure those who will be with me will also be excited to watch the games live.

Continue reading “Pacquiao-Cotto Fight Live Streaming on Sandbox”