One day if we take a time travel back into year 2003 and someone told you that the dumbest of dumb phones could access Facebook, you would be the round eyed guy wondering what someone is chewing. Fast forward to 2013 and we have Facebook Bila Net. This service is meant to give access to internet for that person who has a non-data enabled phone. At-least Facebook access. I have used this service and I think even those using 2G feature phones would sometimes prefer this service when the data service fails, we all know the wait time to get page load for some phones can be a painful process. This one responds immediately.
So what do we have to get this done?
- Non-data enabled phone
- Airtime, at-least Kshs 10
- Orange SIM card
- The desire to access Facebook.
You will then need to dial *32# to register your will to access the service, the prompt response is a message asking yo to choose between options of subscribing for the day at Kshs 10, the week at Kshs 50 and the month at Kshs 100. Once you select any of these options you get a message from 72000 short-code asking you to send your Facebook username and password to that number in this format:
FB [space] firstname.lastname@example.org [space] password
Example: FB email@example.com H388rehjsjs
You will get a prompt text asking you to dial *32# any time you wish to access Facebook, upon which you are presented with a list of Facebook options from the news feed, messages or chat, status, friends month others listed in numbers.
You will then need to just reply with choice number to access each option, this is a text based service, no hyper-links or images.
There are options to read more of the status updates just incase it’s long, the service has a small limit of the size of updates shown at a go, but you are presented with an option to read more by replying with a number option. Even commenting, liking and viewing user profiles is listed with numbers, for example,
The service will time out after moments of inactivity, but you will always access it by dialling *32#. Doesn’t ask you to log in each time so you might want to put in a screen lock to your phone lest someone decides to post some nice things about you on your profile.
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.
All-in all, this is a market segment that is being addressed and this service does what it promised to do in the box, in a very efficient way.