Bharti Airtel, India’s largest cellular service provider, announced a partnership with Facebook yesterday that will bring free access to the site’s mobile version, m.facebook.com, to Bharti’s 130 million customers. For all of July and August Airtel subscribers can utilize key Facebook features like status updates, photos, and private messages with no data charges. The promotion aims to hook users on accessing Facebook from their phones, similar to 0.facebook.com, the free, text-only mobile version of the site Facebook is working with carriers worldwide to bring to users without data plans.
Unlike Facebook Zero, Airtel users will have access to m.facebook.com’s wider set of features, including data-intensive photos, but excluding more complex features like chat and games. Depending on the quantity of photos served, the promotion’s data transmission could become very expensive for whoever between Facebook and Bharti Airtel is footing the bill. The companies are betting they can recoup these costs from users who become accustomed to m.facebook.com and purchase data plans at the end of the two month trial. The promotion will likely boost m.facebook.com’s 19.8 million MAU and 7.76 million DAU, which it in turn seeks to push towards the better user experience of Facebook’s native mobile phone applications.