Zero Rating Facebook Lead to a Doubling of Mobile Internet Purchases in Philippines

Zero rating of content--allowing mobile users access to one or more Internet apps without requiring a mobile Internet subscription, is controversial in some quarters as a violation of network neutrality principles.

But zero rating works, as a way of introducing mobile users to the value of using the Internet, according to tests run by Globe Telecom in the Philippines.

The “Free Facebook” test, which offered all Globe mobile users access to Facebook, including those without a mobile data plan, ran from October 2013 to May 2014.

Over the course of the test, the number of data users on Globe’s network doubled, and the portion of Globe’s prepaid subscriber base who were active on mobile data expanded from 14 percent in September 2013 to 25 percent in November 2014, Facebook and Globe say.

In other words, the mobile Internet customer base nearly doubled.

Globe’s Free Facebook campaign (and similar internet outreach efforts by other players in the market), led to a six million increase in the number of active mobile internet users in the Philippines as a whole.

During the first phase of the trial, Globe’s user base increased by 17 percent. Along with continuing to use data, these users also shifted core telco spend over to Globe’s network, growing voice and text messaging revenues by five percent.

By the end of the first campaign, prepaid mobile data users grew from 4.8 million to 9.7 million, more than a two-fold increase.

After the test, Globe saw a 34 percent jump in average revenue per user, as customers converted to paid mobile service.

The percentage of Filipinos who access Facebook only from WiFi--and never from a mobile data network--decreased from 38 percent at the start of the Free Facebook campaign to 17 percent at the end of Free Facebook Phase two.

Comparing third quarter 2013 (pre-Free Facebook phase one) to the third quarter of 2014 (post-Free Facebook phase one) saw a 58 percent increase in mobile browsing revenue on Globe’s network.

Complain about zero rating if you desire. It worked to acquaint millions of Filipinos with the value of the Internet, and increased the number routinely using the Internet.
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