Freenet, the popular service that offers free Internet access to many Filipinos, is no more. On its Facebook page, Freenet announced that users can access websites and apps in its mobile platform only until August 31, 2019.
Using the Freenet mobile app on Android and iOS, users can access various websites for shopping, reading news, performing banking transactions, ordering food, and many more. Freenet users can also accumulate reward points by completing “missions,” and the points can then be redeemed for rewards such as cellphone load.
With many Filipinos still without reliable Internet access, Freenet has become one of the most popular locally-made apps on Google Play. In fact, the Freenet Android app on Google Play has over 1 million installs. Freenet has also gained several accolades, such as the Most Innovative Product at the Asia Communications Awards Singapore in 2012.
Recently, however, the Freenet app started to receive a deluge of negative reviews, particularly with problems in completing missions and claiming reward points. This is probably an ominous sign that the service is on its last legs and that the developers have stopped improving the platform.
Freenet is a service of Voyager Innovations, the PLDT-backed company behind Smart Padala and Paymaya. Freenet gave no reason as to why its shutting down its free Internet service.
With Internet access becoming cheaper and more accessible to Filipinos, perhaps Freenet no longer sees its service as being viable in the long run. There’s plenty of talk recently about the government providing free Wi-Fi access in public spaces. Add to that is the fact that you can access Facebook for free using your mobile phone, and for as low as P10, you can buy a cheap mobile data package that you can use all day long.
An alternative to Freenet is Free Basics, which is a free Internet service provided by Facebook’s Internet.org foundation.