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Orange enables Facebook on non-internet phones

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Mobile operator Orange has made the popular social network Facebook available to its African customers through USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data).

Orange will make Facebook available on mobile phones through USSD. (image: TechFeb)

“Facebook via USSD allows Orange customers to access the service, regardless of the phone they are using. Even users with older or very basic handsets without an internet connection or data plan will be able to stay in touch with their family and friends on Facebook through a simple and affordable text-based service,” Orange said in a statement.

Xavier Perret, Orange Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, said Facebook plays a big role in how people communicate. “Social networks such as Facebook have completely changed how people stay in contact with their family and friends, and it is important our customers, regardless of the phone they have, are able to access and participate in these services.

“We feel it is our role to help our customers enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and services such as Facebook via USSD this possible,” he said.

To enable this service, customers should enter a specific code on their phones to open a Facebook session via USSD session, then enter a PIN code to access the service securely. No special applications are required.

Charlie Fripp – Online editor


  1. USSD is one way to deliver Internet-based services to basic handsets.

    The other alternative is a SIM-based solution such as "Facebook for SIM" developed by Gemalto: this solution offers an easy access to a mobile interactive text version of Facebook, working on any GSM phone even without data subscription.

    Among other things, the main benefit is the possibility to stay connected to Facebook all the time; as a matter of fact, thanks to interactive notifications that automatically pop-up on the user's handset screen, the user can be continuously be informed about the actions generated by his/her friends (for example a notification is sent to the user when somebody posts a comment on his/her status, sends him/her a request to be friend or posts a new feed on his/her wall).

    It increases users' stickiness to the service and encourage them to buy again daily/weekly/monthly passes.

    For example, Personal in Argentina has already launched commercially this service last October 2011.

    More information can be found at: .

    Sébastien Violette (working on it at Gemalto).

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