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Facebook(s fb) has had some trouble selling phones, but what about a phone plan that sells Facebook? Or gives it away for free, to be more accurate. T-Mobile(s tmus) subsidiary GoSmart is betting big on the social networking giant, with plans to offer unlimited Facebook and Facebook Messenger access for free to its customers, even if they don’t have a data plan.
Facebook has already worked out similar deals with carriers overseas, but GoSmart is the first wireless provider in the U.S. to offer free access to Facebook and Facebook Messenger to all of its customers. The deal begins in January, and all you have to do is log-in to Facebook through the app or your phone’s browser and start social networking to your heart’s content.
According to AllThingsD, the free service will include anything hosted on Facebook itself, such as embedded video. But if you click a link that takes you away from Facebook, you’ll need a data plan. While it isn’t clear what data speeds you’ll be tapping into, my guess is that you’ll be limited to T-Mobile’s 2G network, as that’s what you get access to in GoSmart’s base $35 data plan.
According to Facebook, nearly half of all its users access the site from a mobile phone. So this is a big opportunity for both parties involved. GoSmart might see an influx of new customers, and/or higher customer retention thanks to the offer. And Facebook might see its user base grow further, and get more users accessing the site more often.
Chris Daniels, vice president of partnerships at Facebook, said in a press release, “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.”
Like its parent company T-Mobile, GoSmart is a contract-free carrier. Rates start at $25 per month for unlimited talk, while unlimited talk and text costs $30. You can also get unlimited talk and text with 2G Web access for $35 per month, while an unlimited plan with 5GB of 3G data costs $45. No matter which plan you choose, Facebook use will be completely free starting in January.