I had fun watching the TV ad for the new Smart BRO Prepaid, which featured Sam Milby, Toni Gonzaga and a thousand unknowns. It banked on the premise that you can surf anywhere there’s a PC and that there’s absolutely no monthly fee.
But, unfortunately, after lifting a few fingers to check this new service from Smart BRO, my enthusiasm faded.
Why am I not interested with the Smart BRO’s newest service?
First, let me say that I am a Smart BRO Plan 999 subscriber, enjoying unlimited broadband connection at home. I surf for 2-4 hours everyday (or almost). My Internet-related problems have been limited to a few episodes of no connection, which is nothing their Customer Service agents cannot fix in a few minutes.
Having said that, these are my opinions on Smart BRO Prepaid:
1) It is expensive.
We paid PhP 999 initial payment (which already served as payment for the 1st month) upon applying for a Smart BRO connection and an additional PhP 500 to the guys installing the antenna, since they had to add another length of pipe to ensure capture of the strongest signal possible.
On the other hand, Smart BRO Prepaid asks for PhP 4,500 initial payment, which covers the USB modem, SIM card (which you cannot use for your mobile phone as it has been customized for data only) and PhP 30 broadband load (which is only good for 1 hour and 30 minutes of internet use).
But, hey, there are no monthly fees! Duh, that is the essence of being prepaid. You purchase the load now and use it later – just like how it works with prepaid phones. You use up PhP 10 of your broadband load for every block of 30 minutes of Internet use. That’s PhP 20 per hour, which is more or less what we pay when we go to an Internet Café.
2) It is not as convenient as it claims to be.
Smart BRO Prepaid has been advertised as “the newest Smart BRO Broadband Internet service that allows you to surf the net anywhere there’s a PC!”.
Well, I guess they forgot to add ‘as long as your PC meets these system requirements:
CPU: 500 MHz or higher
RAM: 128MB or higher
Hard Disk: 20 MB or higher
USB 2.0 port
Operating systems: Windows 2000, XP, Vista MAC OS X
Connection is at its best only in 3G/HSDPA covered areas
3) It is best for people who:
– do not have, or do not want to comply with, the requirements to apply for either a Smart BRO Plan 999 or a Smart BRO Plan 799 (Just Plug It). The requirements are proof of identity, proof of address and financial documents.
Smart BRO 799, by the way, uses the same carry-it-anywhere palm-sized USB modem but only requires an initial payment of PhP 1,999. It has a monthly fee of PhP 799, which already includes 40 hours of use per month.)
– do not want to be bound by the lock-in agreement with Smart BRO (lock-in period of 1 year for Plan 999 while 2 years for Plan 799). With the prepaid version, you don’t have to worry about changing providers any time you want, as you don’t have to sign any contract. If your service provider does not satisfy your needs, then switch to the other! But, with the PhP 4,500 initial payment, I don’t think the decision is any easier.
– are located in, or will be traveling to, an area where there is no Internet café (really?!). But, if there is no Internet café in that place, then a signal must either be difficult or impossible to capture.
– are still using dial-up connection. Well, uhm, anything but dial-up would be waaay better. 😉