This bit ‘o news was quietly announced over the Holy Week holidays, so you may be forgiven if it slipped past you while you were off hunting candy colored hard boiled eggs on a white sand beach while in your tutti-frutti colored bunny costume. The product was soft launched at places where vacationers gathered, mainly Boracay, and some NLEX and SLEX gas stations.
Announcing (drum roll please….) Smart Bro Plug-It… the pre-paid edition.
Still gathering the details, but as far as I’ve learned it’s P4,500 for the kit (mainly paying for the the 3G/HSDPA USB modem), and then pay as you go after that. For the non-Filipinos reading this, that’s about US$108.23 at current exchange rates. Pretty inexpensive if I do say so myself.
The kit comes with a prepaid SIM preloaded with P30, after which you pay the standard SMART 3G rate of P10 per 30 minutes, payable via a “Smart Bro Load Card” or standard Smart e-Load.
As you can see from the photo, the modem is black with a blue stripe, which differs from the white Plug-It modem sold with postpaid plans. This nimble little fella hails from those fine purveyors of Chinese telecommunications products, ZTE (humborjers not included).
ZTE of course supplies Philippine telcos with everything from Bayan’s CDMA phones and Globe’s wireless modems – it does lead a scandal free life for the most part!
Just how fast does this puppy purr? As always, connection speed is 384 kbps where 3G is available, throttling down to EDGE and GPRS speeds in other areas. It’s HSDPA capable in areas that support it.
The package is being rolled out at Smart Wireless Centers in the NCR, with distribution throughout the rest of the country scheduled soon afterwards.
Rates you say? Here are the rates:
Mobile broadband has traditionally been a fairly expensive affair in the Philippines, but this product looks poised to blow that idea out of the water by actually making it affordable to the everyman.
Here’s the full product FAQ from the Smart Bro website.
I’m going to try to get hold of a test unit to take for a spin, and I’ll report on the results right here.