In a move to further disrupt the wireless carrier industry, T-Mobile is asking a question that taps into a pain for some smartphone users: Have you ever been notified that you've blown through your wireless data plan limits and can't connect with friends and family on Facebook over your phone?
This isn’t an issue for those with unlimited data plans, but it is surely an annoyance to which many customers can relate. T-Mobile is vowing to put an end to the pain -- at least on its network.
The company just announced that its GoSmart Mobile prepaid wireless brand has partnered with Facebook to become the first wireless provider in the United States to offer free access to Facebook and Facebook Messenger for all of its wireless customers, even those without monthly data service. The program kicks off in January and only requires customers to log-on from a browser or the Facebook application on a compatible phone.
Facebook’s Mobile Aspirations
"Once again, T-Mobile is shaking up the wireless industry by offering unlimited Facebook for GoSmart customers with no strings attached," said Doug Chartier, senior vice president of T-Mobile's GoSmart Mobile brand. Chartier said the GoSmart “deal just got a whole lot sweeter." Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Nearly half of all Facebook users access the site from their phones, according to the social media giant. By joining together around this offering, GoSmart and Facebook aim to give more people in the U.S. the power to share and connect while mobile.
"Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, and we're delighted that GoSmart subscribers, many who don't have data access, will be able to use Facebook for free," said Chris Daniels, vice president of partnerships at Facebook.
Facebook Willing to Pay
We turned to Michael Disabato, a managing vice president of Network and Telecom at Gartner, to get his take on the new deal. He told us it falls under the concept of Net Neutrality, which is the argument that Internet service providers should make it possible for consumers to access all content and apps regardless of where they sit with no favoritism or blocking.
“This is giving Facebook an edge over Google and others because Facebook is paying T-Mobile to do this. So we now have a content provider, Facebook, paying a carrier, T-Mobile, in order to get preferential treatment on their network. It appears to be free for the end user,” Disabato said.
“I expect Google is going to retaliate and push forward on Net Neutrality laws because they don’t want this. This is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. If you can do this with a mobile network operator you can start doing this with DSL and cable and they don’t want that to happen. They’ve rightly called this extortion. People have already paid once so why should they have to pay for it again? Facebook has set a precedent now. They are willing to pay.”