GOOGLE’S free internet access program with partner PLDT, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. has expanded to more than 400 sites the past five months.

In a statement Wednesday, the tech giant said its Google Station program continues to increase in coverage since it was launched in the country in February.

“With our partnership with Smart, we aim to set up Google Station in more locations nationwide so Filipinos can connect to opportunities and benefit from the growing digital economy,” K Suri, Google director for Next Billion Users for Southeast Asia, was quoted in the statement as saying.

The company’s live stations are spread across transportation facilities such as airports in Manila, Clark and Davao and train lines such as the Light Rail Transit Line 2 and Metro Rail Transit Line 3. It is also present in several universities and colleges located in the provinces.

Google said it records an average of 1 million monthly active users on Google Station, with every user spending an average of 22 minutes per session connected to its free internet service.

Since Google Station allows users to connect for 30-minute sessions for an unlimited number of times a day, this data means the 22-minute average time a user spends in every session may be observed from several sessions in a day.

“We remain committed to serving the Filipino community with fast, free and open Wi-Fi so more people can join the millions of Filipinos already using Google Station… This is just the beginning,” Mr. Suri said.

The partnership with PLDT and Smart allowed Google to convert former Smart Free Wi-Fi stations into Google Stations.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez