Facebook has announced
partnerships with mobile operators to provide free or discounted data access to Facebook messaging for their subscribers. The social networking giant has tied up with more than 18 operators in 14 countries including Airtel and Reliance in India, through which it will offer free or discounted data access on Messenger for Android, Messenger for iOS and Facebook for Every Phone (now optimized for chat), in the coming months.
Other operators in the list include TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Vivacom in Bulgaria, Backcell in Azerbaydzhan, Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia, SMART in Philippines, DiGi in Malaysia, DTAC in Thailand, Viva in Bahrain, STC in Saudi Arabia, Oi in Brazil, Etisalat in Egypt, and Tre in Italy.
The move seems to be in line with Facebook's efforts to promote its mobile messaging offerings, taking on mobile-only messenger services like WhatsApp, Viber, LINE and others. While messaging apps are said to be affecting telcos' messaging revenues, it appears that Facebook wants to play a more symbiotic role by roping them in.
Towards the end of last year, Facebook had launched
its new messenger app, allowing mobile phone users without a Facebook account to sign up the service with a phone number. The app was made available to users of phones running on Android in India, Indonesia, Australia, Venezuela and South Africa. Following the launch of the app, Reliance Communications (RCOM) had launched
a new 'Facebook Messenger Plan,' which offered unlimited access to Facebook (including the Facebook Messenger), for Rs. 16 per month.
Facebook had reported
1.06 billion monthly active users (MAUs) worldwide including 71 million in India, as of December 31, 2012.
The company had also recently enabled
free voice calling for users of its iOS app in US and Canada.