Smartphones are on the rise in India but the feature phones market still holds a bigger share. To enable the dominant section with the power of Facebook, State run telephone operator BSNL has launched a service wherein its mobile customers will be able to access Facebook without any Internet or data connectivity.
To make it happen, the public sector telecom firm has tied up with U2opia Mobile to provide Facebook access through USSD in East and South zones immediately, while the service will be launched shortly in West and North zones. Users would be charged Rs. 4, Rs. 10 and Rs. 20 for 3 days, weekly and monthly plans, respectively.
U2opia is known in the industry for its first product Fonetwish which enabled a user to access Facebook without any data charges. It uses the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology, a technology which is similar to when a user needs to send a message to the operator to know his mobile balance. Initially, Utopia had launched the service along with Airtel.
U2opia today has made a presence in 30 countries, across 45 of the largest telecom operator groups in the world, in 7 international languages. The user base is over 11 million globally and adding a million a month, shared CEO Sumesh Menon last year while talking to us on the growth of U2opia.
With the BSNL-U2opia tie up, users will be able to access their Facebook accounts, view/post status messages, respond to friend requests, write on friends’ walls, view birthday reminders and send messages without any Internet or data connection. However the entire USSD experience is text based so users won’t have the ability to use images and videos which Facebook is popular for.
Nevertheless, the move is a rational one specially for feature phone users as well as for those who can’t afford the heavy data plans but are hooked to Facebook.