Kenya: Orange Launches Facebook for Non-Data Handsets

Digital Content

Orange, has launched a Facebook dial service, that offers mobile access to the world's biggest social networking site to entry level customers who were not previously mobile data users.

The service, dubbed 'Facebook Bila Net' targets Orange customers who have basic non-data enabled phones, and previously relied entirely on Internet cafes, borrowed data-enabled devices or personal computers to browse and update Facebook.

Chief Corporate Communications Officer Maureen Sande says this service will enhance the user experience for customers who have been limited to only voice and SMS functionality on their handsets.

"These are customers who will eventually upgrade to smartphones but, for the moment, are using basic entry level handsets. Orange will continue introducing innovative and customer centric products and solutions, targeting the varied segments in the market," she said.

The latest quarterly statistics from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for the second quarter of the 2012/2013 financial year (October - December 2012) show an increase in the number of overall Internet subscriptions by 11.5 percent, from 8.5 million in the previous quarter to 9.4 million, in the quarter under review. The report also indicates that mobile data/Internet subscriptions continued to dominate the Internet market, contributing 99.0 percent of the total Internet/data subscriptions.

"Internet penetration in general has risen by 4.3 percentage points in Kenya, in the last quarter reviewed by the CCK from 36.8 percent to 41.1 percent. This indicates that the demand and subsequent uptake of Internet on the go is rising. Therefore, we sought to provide more flexible options that will allow for an even wider range of users of mobile data, unhindered by their devices," added Ms. Sande.

Orange customers can subscribe to Facebook Bila Net by dialling *32# and choosing their preferred bundle: daily for KSh 10, weekly KSh 50 and monthly for KSh 100. This is a cost effective offering compared to KSh 1 per minute that an entry level handset user would pay to access Facebook at an Internet cafe.

Facebook Bila Net allows users with very basic handsets, without internet connection or a data plan, to stay connected through this simple and affordable text based platform. The service has been successful in other Orange markets in Africa. In Egypt, Mobinil (the Orange affiliate) reported that more than 350,000 subscribers connected to the FaceBook dial service in the first month of its launch.