[PHOTO AT LEFT - SurfTV is a plug-and-play device that connects to any color TV set to access the Internet using Smart Bro’s ‘nationwidest’ coverage.]

MANILA,  MARCH 1, 2010 (STAR) It is easy to understand and enumerate the benefits of the Internet for All advocacy, which Smart Communications Inc. has been pushing hard over the last couple of years. The real question is how to make this happen as quickly as possible.

For Ranila Hufalar, a 23-year-old housewife from Balanga City, Bataan, having a television set in the house is the first step to having access to the Internet.

“When I was in college, I used to imagine doing online activities through the TV. Little did I think that my imagination would one day be a real service available to me and my family,” shared Ranila.

In a recent media gathering, Smart Bro’s SurfTV was introduced as another world-first service offering from Smart subsidiary Smart Broadband Inc. (SBI).

SurfTV is a plug-and-play device that connects to any color TV set to access the Internet using Smart Bro’s “nationwidest” coverage. When plugged into the RCA port of a color TV set the way one would a DVD or VCD player, SurfTV provides users an entry-level Internet experience, enabling them to surf, chat, and e-mail through their TV at home.

SurfTV comes in a boxed set complete with a keyboard, a mouse, a remote control, and a Smart Bro USB stick-type modem with a prepaid SIM, pre-loaded with P100 worth of load. The entire kit costs only P4,500, and Internet access costs only P10 for every 30 minutes.

Ranila is among the first set of subscribers to whom SurfTV was introduced. “I find it to be very useful and convenient to me. With this service, I go online and surf and chat with my friends and family, right from the comforts of our living room,” shared Ranila.

Ranila’s home in Barangay Cataning in Balanga has something in common with about 90 percent of the total number of households in the country. Only one out of every five Filipinos has a computer in the home. But nine out of 10 have a television set. Smart has come up with a service that takes advantage of the ubiquity of the TV to bring Internet access to the home.

“We completed market tests in several places in the country, including Metro Manila, Bataan, Kalibo, and Cagayan de Oro, and we gauged high public interest in a service that allows families to use their TV to access the Internet,” said Annie Naval, Smart head of marketing.

SurfTV expands the Internet service portfolio of Smart, through SBI, which reported a million broadband subscribers by end-2009, the largest in the industry.

“Limited access to devices such as desktop computers used to be a barrier to bringing the benefits of the Internet to Filipinos. Even basic desktop computers are still priced beyond what most households can afford. This is what we hope to address through SurfTV. With this service, people can access the Internet using a low-cost device and an appliance they already have,” said Danilo Mojica, head of Smart’s Wireless Consumer Division.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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