New Zealand’s Spark said yesterday it is partnering with Facebook and Twitter to give customers free access to the two mobile apps with a 1GB data cap per month.
The new offer, Socialiser, is available to both those on postpaid and most prepaid plans (NZD19 / US$15 plans and above) and is good for the life of a service plan for anyone signing up online by 3 February. After 3 February, the deal will be offered for NZD9 ($7) per month.
The company, previously known as Telecom New Zealand, changed its name in August. It is the number two operator with two million connections and a 36 per cent market share (after Vodafone with a 41 per cent share). Eight per cent of its subscribers have 4G and the remainder are 3G users.
Spark’s Jason Paris said that 78 per cent of the country’s 1.8 million daily Facebook users access the social media site on mobile devices. Paris said this high percentage prompted Spark to work out the deal.
Unlike most free and discounted promotions with social media firms, which are offered for a limited period, Paris said Socialiser isn’t just a short-term offer.
Given that the company’s top postpaid data plans – NZD119 and NZ139 for open term and 24-month contracts – provide a maximum of 5GB of data, the 1GB free offer is a substantial incentive.
Partnerships for free or discounted data access with the social media companies are now common in developing markets as well as a few developed countries. A year ago Facebook had deals with 18 operators in 14 countries.
Globe Telecom in the Philippines, a pioneer of zero-rating access to Facebook and the internet, announced in early October it was bringing back the offer launched a year ago in response to rival Smart’s own initiative.
Globe’s new offer, which has no daily cap, is open to all its subscribers and lasts until 30 November.
The move follows rival Smart’s own offer of ‘free’ mobile internet to all its prepaid subscribers until 30 November.
Back in 2009 Hutchison’s 3 introduced an ill-fated Facebook-focused handset that offered unlimited Facebook access for users on an 18-month contract costing $24 a month.