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U Mobile (ümobile): Country’s 5th Telco is the Free, Advertising Based Service

Written by Jayvee Fernandez

EDIT: Erratum on the free load and how it works

EDIT II: Apparently the referral system is now up. I’ll be referring people who want a umobile number. The application requires me to input your name, email and a current cellphone number so if you’re comfy with giving that out to me, send me an email. All info you provide will be held in strict confidence.

EDIT III: Short video walkthrough here

SMART Telecommunications, Globe Telecommunications, SUN Cellular, Bayan Telecommunications. And now there’s room for one more.

There’s a new number in town and that number is “+63999.” Word is out that a telco called CURE which was bought by SMART has been launched for the public, and their name is U Mobile or ümobile, the country’s first free advertising-driven telco. It’s sort of like Inquirer Libre which we get to pick up on the train station free of charge — because everything is subsidized by advertising.

ümobile is a brand owned by Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise, Inc. CURE belongs to the family of the 2 leading telecommunication giants—PLDT and SMART. We maintain our independence as far as strategic business decisions and day-to-day operations are concerned. SMART supports us in our needs especially on network complement. [FAQ]

Is this the telco for the masses? Well no. Not really. Not yet. Currently, applications are by invite only and I heard that people who have been invited to the service (those who went to the launch party a few hours ago) will be able to refer friends who can join up and avail of the free service. I heard as well that there is an allocation of P350 worth of credit per month for users P100 a month for the first 6 months for free. The P350 is the maximum amount of load you can receive by participating in the ad program that is sent to your mobile. We were blown away and I really have so many questions to ask. But as of the moment, that’s all I know.

Commenting on the worldwide telecommunications scene, this is something Google wanted to do – buy their own spectrum and launch their own telco free of charge, driven entirely by advertising. The Philippines is the first in Asia to have an Ad Driven telco and yeah, this is huge. Freakin’ huge. The telco has been in operations for more than a year now undercover and have now launched officially with several partner establishments to deliver advertising directly to the mobile phone.

Ads are purely contextual and users will have to answer a thorough survey which is updated every year in case interests changes. So yes, “contextual” is dependent on the survey as far as I was informed.

Cool beans. Freakin’ cool beans. This is big.

P.S. I won an LG KU380 Phone from the raffle — well I think everyone went home with one! Marketing is surely aggressive. Open bar. Piss drunk. Wheeee!

About the author

Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

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