Technology giant Google, has partnered with the Philippines leading telecom company, PLDT Inc. and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. for the establishment of “open, free and high quality Internet access” in 50 locations around the country.
Google Stations will be located in public areas such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals 1-4, bus terminals, schools, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and Light Rail Transit Line 2.
Mahesh Bhalerao, global director for Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, said during a recent Google event in Manila that, “Google Station will be in all of Smart’s networks in the next few months. Providing free and high quality Wi-Fi is the first step in realizing the vision that Filipinos will be able to get online wherever they are.”
Google Stations allow users to access the Internet for 30 minutes at a time and there is no limit to the number of sessions they can avail of. However in order to access the service users have to go through the sign-in process for every 30-minute session.
Juan Victor Fernandez, head of enterprise business at PLDT, told reporters at the event that there are currently 300 Smart Free Wi-Fi sites in the country and that, “Smart’s Free Wi-Fi stations will soon be converted to Google Station.”
In addition to the Philippines, Google Station has already been launched in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Thailand.
At the same time, Google Philippines also announced new products and updates including Google Go, a lighter version of Google search. The new app, which comes pre-loaded in smartphones using the Android Go operating system and can be downloaded in the Philippine Google Play Store, promises a user-friendly interface with “less typing and more tapping.”
Simon Tokumine, Google’s group project manager for search said the new app, built for phones with less than 1GB RAM and those experiencing unstable and/or slow connections and is less than 5 MB to download. One of the apps key features is its ability to read to the user a webpage.
Google also announced that jobs will soon be included in Google Search and that this will allow users to find and track job listings from sites like the Civil Service Commission, the Department of Labor and Employment and Kalibrr.
Google Maps will also get an upgrade, including a number coding feature in partnership with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which will “allow drivers to get to their destination while avoiding restricted roads.” Maps also includes an update for motorcycle riders on iOS phones providing turn-by-turn navigation, as well as a street view update for Boracay Island.
Finally, Google announced its collaboration with PLDT Enterprise to help verify Filipino business profiles through an online process and support them to get their businesses listed on Google Maps and Search.
Kenneth Lingan, Google Philippines country said in a statement that, “The Internet is creating opportunities for individuals and businesses to connect, learn and grow which is reflected in the economic growth the country has seen in the last five years. However, we can only sustain this growth by building a strong foundation for inclusive growth. We believe technology can play a critical role in making this happen by enabling connectivity and access to the Internet; providing relevant and useful content; and localized products and experiences for all.”