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Facebook Messenger gets a data price cut – at least, for international users


Data usage, even if it’s a dozen kilobytes here and a couple of megabytes there, adds up pretty quickly. And as carriers are retiring unlimited data plans, we have to be extra vigilant about our usage or face hefty fees. Facebook is being proactive and announced that it would be working with 18 carriers in 14 countries to heavily discount the cost of data for using Facebook Messenger.

Facebook has stiff competition when it comes to pushing its standalone messaging app into the spotlight, which is turning out to be cut-throat and crowded. Facebook, what with 1.1 billion users, will naturally recommend its Messenger app and slowly make converts of an existing userbase. But it’s not quick enough since LINE and WeChat are stirring up enough trouble for the social network to adopt these competitor’s core features – remember push-to-talk?

Messaging is an activity done frequently enough that some of you have reason to worry, whether it’s because you’ve limited yourself to a minimum 128 MB data plan, or you’re messaging friends, family, coworkers day and night. Facebook is making a play to incentivize these heavy users to come to Facebook where messaging is next to free, if not free in the first place. Admittedly the switch to Facebook Messenger might be worth looking into, granted that the app now sports just about all the core features of a messaging app, although really it’s for now just a stripped down version of competing apps.

Users in the United States though shouldn’t celebrate just yet. The promotion isn’t available in North America. In case you’re wondering if your country is on the list at launch, here are the operators playing along with Facebook:

“Operators committed to special pricing for Facebook messaging include TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Airtel and Reliance in India, 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 promotion, if you’re a subscriber of one of the above, is available on Messenger for Android and iOS. You’ll be glad to know that this promotion applies to Facebook’s main app for all phones as well.

We can take an educated guess where you’re probably not going to see this Facebook promotion. If you’re based out of the UK, France, Spain, or other countries where Orange Telecom has a presence, and Orange happens to be your provider, don’t expect the company to even flirt with Facebook’s data subsidy program. Why is that? Orange, through its R&D group Orange Vallée, launched its own mobile messaging and VoIP app called Libon and it’s a direct competitor to Messenger. And is there any chance that Facebook would work with a Chinese telecom company? Don’t count on it.

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Francis Bea
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