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Facebook to offer free or discounted data for Messenger iOS app in international push

Social networking monolith Facebook on Monday announced that it has partnered with multiple cellular providers worldwide to let Messenger app users send messages at discounted or free data rates.

Facebook Messenger

In a post to Facebook's official "Notes" webpage, the company said it would be providing free or discounted data access to Messenger app users on Android, iOS and Facebook for Every Phone. Because Messenger uses data instead of text allotments to send messages, much like Apple's own iMessage, the promotion could be a draw for those who don't yet use the service.

Facebook appears to be making a push into countries where it may not be the dominant social networking destination, offering the promotional plan as an incentive to try out its services. As noted by AllThingsD, even those who don't have Facebook accounts can take advantage of the limited time deal through the "no account, no problem" program.

From Facebook's "Notes" post:
Three out of every four people on Facebook send a message on the platform each month, making messaging one of the most popular activities on Facebook. Today, Facebook messaging and chat can be accessed from more than 6,000 mobile phones via Facebook Messenger, Facebook for iOS and Android, Facebook for Every Phone, and across other devices with Facebook integration.

No mention was made of Messenger's voice over IP capabilities, which the company recently baked into its flagship app on iOS, and the feature appears to remain a U.S. and Canada exclusive.

Special pricing will be rolling out on 18 mobile carriers across 14 countries:
  • Azerbaijan - Backcell
  • Bahrain - Viva
  • Brazil - Oi
  • Bulgaria - Vivacom
  • Egypt - Etisalat
  • India - Airtel and Reliance
  • Ireland - Three
  • Indonesia - Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata
  • Italy - Tre
  • Malaysia - DiGi
  • Philippines - SMART
  • Portugal - TMN
  • Thailand - DTAC
  • Saudi Arabia - STC

The promotion will reportedly be active for three months or more depending on carrier availability. Facebook's Messenger for iOS is an 11.2MB download available for free through the App Store. Other iOS applications from Facebook include the namesake app itself, FaceBook Camera, FaceBook Poke, and Facebook Pages Manager (for admins) —all of which are free downloads.