Monday, May 30, 2011

Airtel users can now access Facebook without internet connection

Airtel has launched the world’s first USSD-based Facebook access service in India, a way to access the everyone’s favourite social network without an internet connection. Airtel users will be able to update their Facebook status for free, and, for Rs. 1 a day, view/comment/Like news feeds, post on walls, confirm friend requests, find and add friends, and view notifications.Bharti Airtel has announced that  its 160 million plus customers in India can simply dial *325# and *fbk#( for non-QWERTY mobile handsets) to access Facebook, without subscribing to any data plans.

Because USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a session-based communication, unlike SMS, which is transaction-based, it has significantly faster response times, and is more suited for content-based and interactive applications. It functions somewhat like a menu-based browser. The technology is unique to GSM, and is a built-in way to transmit data over signal channels. Airtel’s USSD solution is based on Fonetwish, developed by U2opia Mobile.

Airtel has launched this service in partnership with U2opia Mobile, a Singapore-based software applications developer, which has developed Fonetwish, a platform for accessing Facebook via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data). The USSD system acts as a browser that pulls content to the mobile phone, and it does so without using the internet or activating GPRS.

Using this service Facebook users can perform all the activities like updating their Facebook statuses, posting on friend’s walls, commenting on and liking posts, finding new friends, receiving notifications and so on, without using the internet or GPRS capabilities. Though updating the Facebook status through this USSD service is free of cost, a minimal charge of Rs. 1/day will be applicable for those accessing the other features of this application like commenting, posting and liking.

In India, the number of people using smart phones is relatively low and even those using smart phones are unable to access networking sites like Facebook, due to lack of proper internet connection. With Airtel’s innovative USSD service for Facebook, mobile users can stay connected with people easily and without spending too much on the internet usage.

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