Telenor opens the door to world of social media for millions of customers

New partnership with U2opia Mobile enables access to Facebook® without any Internet connectivity, using only the USSD protocol to post your status, check your newsfeed or “like” a comment on the popular social networking site.

Published: 25 October 2012 11:00

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Telenor Group has now entered into an agreement with U2opia Mobile, an innovator in social Internet and mobile convergence, to bring Facebook to its millions of non-Internet connected customers via USSD. USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a low bandwidth data service that allows you to send information on a 2G network with no Internet connectivity.

As Telenor’s new partner, U2opia Mobile is sharing its “Facebook by Fonetwish” platform with Telenor customers – starting in India, followed by Malaysia and Bangladesh before the year end. Facebook by Fonetwish is easy to use, fast and affordable for both customers and operators, as it is text-based and uses very little bandwidth. There are no handset requirements to use this type of service. This means that a 10+ year old phone with no Internet and/or GPRS connectivity can still use USSD to send and receive information.

Innovating for everyday life

“Telenor seeks ways to innovate for people’s everyday lives. Today, we see that many customers in Asia and Europe are using very basic handsets that are incapable of connecting to the Internet. I am proud to say that through our agreement with U2opia Mobile, the handset is no longer a barrier, and we can now give the lion’s share of our customers an easy-to-use, affordable and interactive social media experience,” said Rolv-Erik Spilling, Deputy Head of Telenor Digital Services.

To get Facebook via USSD, Telenor subscribers simply dial *325# or *fbk# to start. A username and password is required. Once logged on, the user is presented with a menu of Facebook options: browse newsfeed, update status, post on walls, view friend requests, send friend request, send messages and view notifications. Telenor’s Indian operator, Uninor, rolled out a beta version of Facebook by Fonetwish in September this year, charging Rs20 per month ($0.39/mo) for unlimited access.

New business opportunities

“Our platform, Facebook by Fonetwish, gives people the opportunity to connect to a social network, often for the first time ever on their mobile-phones. This opens up new business opportunities for Telenor as a mobile operator, allowing them to provide an Internet service to a new group of people who do not actually have access to the Internet,” said Sumesh Menon, Co-Founder & CEO, U2opia Mobile.

Starting in 2013, Telenor plans to expand their partnership with Wikimedia, making Wikipedia via USSD available for customers as well. Telenor and Wikimedia Foundation first announced their collaboration in February 2012 to bring Wikipedia to Telenor customers at absolutely no cost (for data usage).

“We are now entering a phase in which we can give all of our customers, regardless of their phone, subscription, connection, etc. a means to engage and connect with friends and family via Facebook, as well as access to a vast pool of knowledge on Wikipedia. This is innovation at its best and a true step towards greater digital inclusion in our markets,” said Spilling.

Contact information:

Atle Lessum, Head of Communication,Telenor Digital Services, +47 415 05 645, al@telenor.com