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Public places in the Philippines to get free internet access

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Public places in the Philippines will soon have free internet access granted by the national government, now that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10929, also known as the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.

The new law will form what is called “Free Internet Access Program” in all public places in the Philippines. Headed by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), the government is tasked to provide free internet to the following areas:

  • National and local government offices
  • State universities and colleges
  • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions
  • Public basic education institutions
  • Public hospitals, health centers, and rural health units
  • Public parks, plazas, libraries, and barangay reading centers
  • Public airports and seaports
  • Public transport terminals

Each user should be able to get a minimum speed of 2Mbps or what is mandated in the Philippines’ National Broadband Plan. By 2020, the minimum speed will bump up to at least 10Mbps. These numbers are pretty promising on paper, and it should be followed as written in the law.

While it’s great to have free internet access in public places, the new law doesn’t require all corners of the area to be covered. At the very least, computer laboratories, main lobbies, hallways, and assembly points get priority access to free internet.

So, how are we supposed to know if there’s free internet access available? There will be signage that’ll be visible and readable — just like those Free Wi-Fi signs you look for when you scout for a coffee shop.

There are already a number of free internet spots in common spaces, mostly in civic centers, government buildings, shopping malls, and dining areas, but they are usually limited to just one- to two-hour access. With a law affirming the right to free access for public use, these spots will definitely grow. Both the government and the private sector will partner up for its implementation.

SEE ALSO: Philippines still ranks near bottom for 4G LTE speeds and availability

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Digital telco GOMO comes to the Philippines

Offers mobile data with no expiry

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Going digital is the new normal. Digital telco GOMO comes to the Philippines, offering large mobile data allocations with no expiry.

Running under Globe Telecom, GOMO offers 5G and LTE enabled sim cards with non-expiring mobile data. It can be purchased through GOMO’s website, GOMO’s PH app, or via official Lazada and Shopee stores.

Additionally, your mobile data can be used as Mo Creds through GOMO’s app. You can convert your existing data so you can subscribe to other prepaid promos like call and text, for as low as 0.2GB. In essence, your mobile data can be your form of currency.

Prepaid subscribers can buy mobile data promos through GOMO’s app, offering 25GB of mobile data for PhP 299 and more.

GOMO’s app is currently available on the Google Play Store. It’s expected to come to The App Store and Huawei’s AppGallery. Currently, GOMO offers a free sim card with 25GB of non-expiring mobile data at PhP 199, and delivers it for free nationwide.

 

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Facebook is launching messaging between Messenger and Instagram

Rolling out to a few countries first

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Last year, Facebook announced an expansive plan to merge its messaging apps on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The initiative will hopefully create a cohesive ecosystem across their related platforms. In August, the company finally started to take comprehensive steps towards that goal, inviting select users to the future program. Now, the secret’s out. Facebook is launching messaging between Messenger and Instagram.

Officially announced today, Facebook is rolling out a Messenger-centric update to Instagram’s Direct Messaging feature. Obviously, the biggest addition is cross-platform messaging between the two platforms. Instagram users can now message Messenger users directly through the app. Even more, the cross-functionality comes with video call compatibility.

Besides this function, Facebook is also introducing new features to Instagram Messaging. It now has its own Selfie Stickers, customizable chat colors, personalized emoji reactions, and animated message effects. Further,

Instagram and Messengers users can now watch content together. This includes “Facebook Watch, IGTV, Reels, TV shows, movies,” and video calls.

Right now, Facebook is releasing the update for select users in a few countries. The company plans to expand globally soon. However, if users want to, they can opt out of the update entirely. Of course, as Facebook is wont to do, the platform will likely force users int the new update sooner or later.

With Instagram’s integration into Facebook Messenger, Facebook still has WhatsApp left to integrate into its ecosystem.

SEE ALSO: Messenger Rooms is Facebook’s group video chat app

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Google’s Hold for Me feature will kill annoying delivery jingles

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If you were like us during this tempestuous lockdown season, you love (and still love) getting stuff delivered, whether it’s food or something new for the house. Unfortunately, despite our love for new things, one thing we still hate is an unending delivery hotline call. Yes, we mean those annoying-but-needlessly-catchy marketing jingles. (In fact, Sarah Geronimo’s Jollibee jingle is still ringing in my ears as I write this.)

Finally, Google has a solution for this work-from-home nightmare. Announced earlier today, the company is introducing a new functionality for calls on hold. The new Hold for Me feature will place Google Assistant in line for you whenever a hotline places you on hold. You don’t need to listen through 40 loops of hold music anymore.

Using Google’s Duplex AI, the Hold for Me feature will alert you — through a sound, a vibration, or a notification — when the call is ready for you. According to Google, Duplex technology can accurately detect if the hotline finally responds with either a recorded message or a human representative. Despite the need for AI processing, Google assures users that the company isn’t storing call data. All call data will remain inside the phone.

The feature is launching inside Google’s Phone app. Users can toggle the feature on or off through the Settings and activate it manually during calls.

For now, Google is launching the feature through an early preview in the new Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G. Both smartphones will launch sometime in October and November.

SEE ALSO: Google is officially launching Android 11 today

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