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Telenor to Offer Facebook on GSM Phones via USSD Connectivity

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Telenor Group says that it has entered into an agreement with U2opia Mobile to bring Facebook to its millions of non Internet connected customers via USSD services.

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a low bandwidth data service that allows users to send information on a GSM 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. 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.

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.

"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 also 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).

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Tags: telenor  ussd  facebook  u2opia mobile  India  Malaysia  Bangladesh