Grameenphone, in partnership with Meta, launched text-only Facebook and Discover to enable Grameenphone customers to stay connected more consistently, even when they run out of data.
With these products, Grameenphone will help promote digital inclusion in Bangladesh through supporting connectivity, ensuring accessibility, and advancing the country's digital aspirations.
Mustafa Jabbar, minister of the Posts and Telecommunications Division, formally inaugurated text-only Facebook and Discover on Tuesday at Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) office.
Discover, a website and an Android app, allows Grameenphone customers to browse the internet using a daily balance of 15MB without data charges. In addition, discover only supports low-bandwidth features such as text and icons when using free data.
With these products, Grameenphone customers will have more consistent access to essential resources such as education sites, health resources, and job information.
BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder, Secretary of Post & Telecommunication Division Md Khalilur Rahman, and officials from Meta and mobile operators were present.
Mustafa Jabbar said, "I have seen mobile phone operators stand beside people disregarding financial gain. They have kept the socio-economic activities running by ensuring connectivity."
"To run Facebook without internet is a great initiative. This will help reduce the digital divide by ensuring connectivity and allowing information dissemination among the marginal section of people", he added.
BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder appreciated the arrangement, commenting, "The government has been emphasizing bringing maximum people under the umbrella of digital connectivity. But to turn it into a reality, we need the private sectors, especially the mobile network operator (MNO)s in this case, to step forward proactively."
He added, "It is a good move by Grameenphone to improve access to social media and other important resources on the internet – this shall help more people who are not necessarily privileged to high-speed internet access important virtual channels like the Facebook pages of our ministries and other online resources such as national education and health sites.
"These services shall help the Bangladesh Government's aspirations to ensure affordable connectivity to all", he concluded.
Yasir Azman, chief executive officer of Grameenphone said, "The pandemic has accelerated the journey towards a digitally connected society and economy, resulting in tremendous growth in digital inclusion, especially in countries like us."
GP has been playing a pivotal role through its innovation and investment to maximize the benefit of digital solutions for people from all walks of life. Today's launch is a testimony of co-creation with Meta & Regulator to best utilize digital solutions for ensuring access to vital information in need for one of the largest Facebook user bases in the world.
"I'd like to further express my gratitude to the regulators for enabling us to launch such a timely initiative where everyone has access to information even without data in this era", added Yasir Azman.