PLDT WiFi Zone: Can paid public WiFi survive?

PLDT WiFi Zone: Can paid public WiFi survive?

Yesterday, PLDT and Intel held a joint event to present a partnership for the PLDT WiFi Zone and the Intel-powered ultrabooks. They didn’t really share anything concrete plans bewteen the two brands but it was an opporunity for me to ask a lingering question — can paid public WiFi still survive in this time of cheap mobile internet and free public WiFi?

The PLDT WiFi Zone was first introduced sometime in December with regional pocket launches in Cebu (during Sinulog) and in Baguio (during Penagbenga).

PLDT WiFi Zone speed test.

Prior to this, Smart Bro also offered a similar WiFi service called SmartBro WiFly which was a partnership with Airborne Access (a company bought earlier by PLDT). Today, it looks like Airborne Access is no longer in operation and if you visit their website (, a Smart Bro website will appear in its stead.

When I asked PLDT representatives if the PLDT WiFi Zone will complement or kill Airborne Acess, they responded by saying that all of the Airborne Access WiFi hotspots will be integrated into the PLDT WiFi Zone. This is the reason why they’ve managed to put up over 3,500 hotspots all over the country in such a short time.

PLDT’s strategy with the WiFi Zone is to offer a complimentary service to all Smart and PLDT Subscribers. It’s still a paid service but a heavily discounted one.


Existing Smart subscribers get the additional unlimited access for only Php300 MSF on top of the postpaid account. PLDT MyDSL subscribers will only need to shell out Php150 per month to get the same access.

The rates are pretty affordable especially if you’re on PLDT MyDSL and if your usual hang-out place has one of them PLDT WiFi Zones.

The question still remains though — in this day and age where a lot of malls, restaurants and coffee shops offer free public WiFi and the fact that mobile internet is also very cheap (Php50 per day on unlimited), is there a room for paid WiFi service?

It didn’t really worked well before with Airborne Access because of the very expensive price (as much as Php100 per hour right?) and maybe that’s the reason why PLDT gobbled up the remaining hotspots and incorporated them into the WiFi Zone. Then, there’s the problem of finding these hotspots at your usual hang-out places.

As for me, and since I am a PLDT MyDSL subscriber, I’d go ahead and fork out the extra Php150 a month once my favorite spots in the Metro will have them (MOA, Magallanes, Greenbelt, Boni High Street). So far, I have not found one yet in the last couple of months so it’s a wait and see attitude for me. This is merely as a back-up connection — wired DSL over WiFi still beats 3G internet in terms of stability (torrents too!).

So, I’ll throw the question on the floor — do you think paid public WiFi will fly?

Disclosure: All visitors and members of the media were given a free access to the PLDT WiFi Zone until June 30, 2012.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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18 Responses

  1. The Truth says:

    The Simple answer is a BIG NO!
    Almost all of us will agree that the greatest gift in life are FREE. Free public Wifi in mall, restaurant and coffee shops. PLDT w/c is managed by no one else but Mr. MVP is too much greedy. To think that he wants to buy and own all of the stuffs here in the Philippines. Would’nt you call that Greed! Save some for others.

  2. great says:

    It will if di ko na kailangan mag subscribe for a dsl or postpaid account to have that.

    It will sa mga bahay na walang internet if malapit lang ever ang wifi signal to the house. Paying 300 pesos would be great.

    It wont kung lahat naman ng halos landmarks has Free wifi na. I wont shell out money for redundancy.

  3. Adam says:

    NO! that would not be useful. Most people still depend on free wifi nowadays and making that move would make a big difference in the internet life of many people. Additionally, i don’t think it will sell.
    Just my two cents.

  4. goosebumps says:

    almost the same concept here in Saudia Arabia but the difference is it’s FREE in here…If yiu are a subscriber to the DSL plan here, its automatic ou have free access to their wifi hotspots located in major locations around the city at no extra cost, you use the same username and password you have in your regular DSL subscription..

  5. Ranz McFlurry says:

    PLDT will strive to retain the paid wi-fi service. but as complimentary value-added service of their existing subscriptions. if i am a pldt subscriber, i would prefer adding a small budget compared to other network broadband service. bottom line here is practicality. the era of wi-fi enabled gadgets, smart phones and laptop/netbook is very dynamic. there will come a time that smart phones which are not wi-fi ready and capable will become obsolete. other telcos and cellular networks wont likely follow the same technological trend since they are going to retain their existing broadband service. and this is advantageous for pldt. (just a simple logical comparison other broadband service = 999.00/month pldt’s value added wi-service = 150.00/month) bingo! Another thing, depending on the bandwidth, as to our current internet infrastructure, there’s no big difference with wifi and broadband speeds. thanks

  6. Ken says:

    it’s classic chicken and the egg. Paid wifi can work only if they create a winning formula for the retail establishments (i.e. coffee shops). Most of these establishments provide free wifi as an incentive to lure in customers. By providing a financial incentive to the establishment, perhaps more will sign up thus more hotspots can be created. PLDT can then generate more revenue by signing more subscribers in these establishments.

    Globe tried to do it with their paid wifi service, primarily inside Starbucks. Unfortunately they didn’t really have any other meaningful hotspots.

  7. Xstriker of TipidPC says:

    If PLDT Wifi Zone can deliver the SPEED and COVERAGE then YES! I’m sick and tired of f*ckin tedious 3G services!! same with free public wifi, they’re always congested and d*mn slow!!

    It’s time to provide a Wifi service that can truly DELIVER! It should be powered by gigabit connection and military grade access points which can penetrate thickest concrete walls.

    Our mobile gadgets needs the right juice so that they can unleash their true power..

  8. Edjie Apines says:

    kung ang bilis niya ay kayang i support ang gaming, why not? at kung metro-manila wide :D kaso ang nakakatakot lang talaga sa mga ganyan ay puro pangako, pero pag nag avail ka na, simula na ng kalbaryo mo, kumbaga bayad mo na perwisyo ka pa :D dapat i finalized muna nila yung pag i-install at tapos mag bigay sila ng free months to subscribers, kumbaga free trial para judge ng public kung reasonable talaga yung i-aadd na 150. kasi kahit na sabihin nating 150 lang un, pag pervasive na masyado material na din ang effect Financial statements ng PLDT. at para lang natin silang pinayaman at hinayaang lokohin nanaman tayo :D hahaha

  9. milanaorly says:

    NO, it will not survive, i would rather go to a free wifi service in a mall, specially on SM Free wifi or the Smart data plans, that i am free to go anywhere without concerning the signal of a paid wifi service, ill be expecting that it would be free after a year :D – for PLDT subscribers

  10. RaymundR says:

    It will survive of-course. Free wifi from malls is ok but with limited access and spots and super bagal pa. Connection inside expensive coffee shops is, as I was saying EXPENSIVE! Magkano ba ang isang tasang kape para maka-internet ka. Kung sosyal ka marami kang pera, yun siguro. Pero for madlang people, reasonable pricing and speed is good enough! I will go for this Wifi Zone.

  11. Abiel says:

    This will only work for people who really use the connection… For work or busines needs. Since public wifi tend to be slow and you don’t know if someone would just flip a switch turn it off.

  12. audioatoms says:

    If after trying the network would not be as much congested as what prepaid subscribers experience, why not? But if its just as slow as what we usually pay for, screw them. They can’t fly.

  13. paolo says:

    IF AND ONLY IF the paid WiFi service has a VERY(!) significant advantage to the free WiFi service, (Always Faster, Always Useful, Always THERE) then YES. I will fork out some of my money to enjoy the PLDT WiFi Zone service.

    Otherwise, I will stick to the internet on my phone. Ayokong gatasan nanaman ng pera pag pangit lang ang service. :)

  14. Les says:

    @ P150 extra for existing subscribers! it should have been free since you can only use it for 1(one) login session per hotspot! and that’s a big crap offer! kaya pag naka connect ka na, wag ka na mag logout. BS!

  15. Ren says:

    NO for me. Im not comfortable going online in public areas. Even if i do, i only check FB updates and emails which I can free in some malls. Public wifi is not for my lifestyle.

  16. EarlZ says:

    It can survive if they provide something like 70~100Mbps but at 1.9Mbps only I get faster speeds at home.

  17. vtlobo says:

    Make it city wide, like gsm signal siguradong patok ito.

  18. Briton Rabe says:

    I’m Experiencing damn slow connection with pocket wifi, the agent told us its the fastest device they have… but this device totally SUCKS!

    Full bar but .20mbps?? I mean WTH??

    I found out also that when the device gets hot the speed also slows, looks like the device is not that good…


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