Facebook boosted its efforts to reduce the cost of mobile internet access by agreeing to acquire Pryte, a Finnish company giving mobile users without data plans the ability to buy data on a per app basis.
Facebook’s Internet.org initiative is aimed at bringing connectivity to the five billion people around the world currently without access to the internet.
Together with partners, Facebook is looking to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and reduce the cost of delivering data. This includes investment in tools to reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and internet services.
Pryte’s as-yet-unlaunched service will allow users to buy mobile data in a single click, meaning they just pay for data they actually use for particular apps. Mobile operators can also use Pryte’s cloud-based technology to launch app-based data plans and partnerships with OTT players without the need for infrastructure investment.
Founded in 2013, Pryte said it is working “to reimagine the way mobile data works in an app-driven world, by enabling partnerships between app and content providers, and mobile operators”.
In a statement about the Facebook deal, the company said its goals align closely with the social network’s “mission to connect the world by partnering with operators to bring people online in a profitable way”.
It will also allow Pryte to make a bigger impact in making internet access more affordable for people around the globe as part of the Internet.org initiative.
A Facebook representative told Re/code that Pryte has relationships with several operators in emerging markets — another factor that is likely to have attracted the web giant.
Speaking at Mobile World Congress in February, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to prove the business model of operators in emerging markets offering basic internet for free, and spoke of “promising results” achieved with Globe in the Philippines and Tigo in Paraguay.
Facebook is also working on drones and satellite technology to develop “new platforms for connectivity on the ground, in the air and in orbit”, as part of its efforts to make the internet available and affordable to unconnected people around the world.
Financial details of the Pryte acquisition were not disclosed, although a Facebook representative told Re/code that the deal is expected to close later this month.