MTN gets social with Facebook - TechCentral

MTN gets social with Facebook

MTN's head office in Johannesburg

MTN is getting social. The Johannesburg-headquartered cellular telecommunications group has signed an agreement with US-based social networking service Facebook.

The deal will see the two companies introduce a new mobile version of Facebook at 0.facebook.com — and mobile users won’t have to pay any Web browsing or data access charges to take advantage of the service.

It’s seen as a move by Facebook to increase its presence in emerging markets, where most users are expected to access the Web for the first time not on computers but on mobile phones.

The new mobile website is optimised for speed — it is faster and more lightweight that Facebook’s existing mobile site, m.facebook.com.

The site does not serve up graphics or photos and the site’s pages have been optimised for use on MTN’s network, the two companies say. Standard data charges will apply when a person leaves 0.facebook.com to view photos.

The service will be available to all 123m MTN subscribers in the 21 territories in which it operates in Africa and the Middle East is already available in eight of the 21 territories in which MTN operates, and will be expanded to others over time.  — Staff reporter, TechCentral

10 Comments

  1. The idea of a freezone never seems to quite catch on – the only place it’s really had any kind of significant following is in Australia and NZ where their ADSL is now probably worse than ZA. If Vodacom are clever they’ll just make the entire m.facebook.com free for subscribers and advertise “come get the FULL facebook experience for free” 🙂

  2. Good move – and could possibly be made better if you could get news and local social services to sign on with their own text-only versions of things. If your first contact with the Internet is through a mobile device, and a carrier offers 90% of the stuff you’d use it for for free, that’s a pretty big draw.

    ~ Wogan

  3. @Greg Oh, people get the full Facebook for free plenty. Offices, schools, libraries 😉

    And Vodacom/Vodafone already has the Vlive thingamajig – mobile content provision, free to browse. I’d have thought they’d be the ideal partner for a free social networking site. Oh well.

    ~ Wogan

  4. @Wogan not sure where the free facebook on PC’s come into the mobile discussion? This is an obvious publicity stunt from MTN, one that could be trumped easily by any of the other players. If you’re going to do a publicity stunt, at least make it worthwhile, not “free text mode facebook”. Utterly useless. Totally free m.facebook.com might be something worth talking about.

    After Mweb’s all-in attitude to uncapped ADSL, it’s disappointing that this is the mobile operator’s best effort. Text-mode facebook and 24-month contracts on soft-capped internet. The mobile operators are usually FAR more aggressive than this.

  5. It doesn’t seem to be working…

    Surely they should have gotten this sorted before going to press.

    http://0.facebook.com gives me everything from “web gateway error” to blank page to “not supported with your service provider” (which is MTN).

  6. Update: a correction was made to the last parapraph, with the older, incorrect information in strikethrough.

  7. Just went thru my old email. I had sent Cathy Henderson an email offering them community and content management services in January 2009. Cathy then forwarded the email to Lana Strydom, and then there was silence. Chances are Lana does not know that I am the architect who gave birth to and built their in-house portal Yelloworld.
    Either way, MTN is really really late on the social engagement bandwagon for a behemoth of a company.. one that led the charge with launching GPRS in 2001 and built their own 3G network in 2004.
    Trendspotting is not one of the company’s strengths anymore I assume.. or all the talented people have left the company – not knowing when the outsourcing rampage they went on over the past 4 years will affect their jobs.

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