A new service started by Bharti Airtel will allow any mobile phone user to access Facebook for just a rupee a day. The beauty of this service is that it works on virtually any GSM mobile phone, even if it is not internet-enabled.
This new service makes use of USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) service, which is a protocol used by GSM to communicate with service provider s computers. Those who have had mobile phones for over a decade, may remember that USSD had been in use in the form of WAP-over-SMS to access mobile internet in phones not supporting any form of internet connectivity.
Due to the limitations of the technology, the interactivity is also limited to status updates, “friend” requests and posting text on walls. While Facebook is the dominant social networking website globally, it is still in second place in India behind Google’s Orkut, which is still in leading comfortably. But Facebook is fast gaining popularity and moves like these may only serve to its advantage.
Currently, only Bharti Airtel offers a service such as this, but we may soon find other GSM service providers follow suit.