Orange is Rolling Out Facebook via USSD in Africa
Orange has announced that it is rolling out USSD access of Facebook throughout Africa. Facebook via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) will allow almost everyone win an Orange line to access Facebook regardless of the phone he/she is using. USSD works on even the very basic handsets without an internet connection or data access since it is text-based.
USSD is used by all GSM mobile devices to send information across a 2G / EDGE network, and is already used widely in Africa. USSD is already very common in African countries like Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa where mobile money services is being used. Orange expects to connect one million customers in the first year.
Orange launched the service in December 2011 for Mobinil Egypt customers, and already over 350,000 customers have connected Facebook via USSD in the first month. Today Orange is launching the service in Orange Côte d’Ivoire this month, and further markets in Orange’s African footprint will see the launch in 2012.
Xavier Perret, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Orange said,
“Social networks such as Facebook have completely changed how people stay in contact with their family and friends, and it’s important that our customers, regardless of the phone they have, are able to access and participate in these services. We feel that it is our role to help our customers enjoy a digitally rich, connected life, and services such as Facebook via USSD this make that possible for even more of our customers.”
There are no special applications required to use Facebook via USSD. Clients only need to type a specific code into their phone to open a Facebook via USSD session and enter a PIN code to access the service securely. If the customer is using Facebook via USSD for the first time, they will have to register by providing their Facebook login, Facebook password and by creating a PIN code.
Through Facebook via USSD, customers can search for friends, invite friends, accept or deny friend requests, update their status and comment/like/unlike their friend’s status’.
Charges of the service might be tricky but Orange is indicating that its customers will have the choice between four types of pricing:
- per session (10 to 20 minutes),
Exact bundles and tariffs will vary from country to country as the service rolls out in various markets