Ina Fried

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T-Mobile’s GoSmart Hopes to Boost Data Use by Offering Unlimited Free Mobile Access to Facebook

Overseas, Facebook has worked with a number of carriers to bring free access to the social network for those who don’t otherwise have data plans for their phones.

GoSmart Logo

Now a T-Mobile subsidiary is trying to see if the same thing works in the U.S. GoSmart, a prepaid brand owned by T-Mobile, will offer unlimited free access to Facebook and Facebook Messenger to its phone customers, whether or not they have a data plan.

“Facebook is the most important online communication tool we’ve seen come around,” said Gavin Dillon, T-Mobile’s VP of partner brands.

The free service, which begins next month, will extend to anything hosted on Facebook itself — such as an embedded video — but if a link takes a user off Facebook’s site, they will need to have a data plan, Dillon said.

It’s similar to a program that Facebook has done overseas to bring its social network to mobile users, but marks the first time that it has been tried in the States.

For GoSmart, it is a chance for T-Mobile to give a unique selling point to the GoSmart brand launched earlier this year. The carrier offers plans starting at $25 a month for unlimited talk. Unlimited texting costs an additional $5 a month, while talk, text and low-speed Web access costs $35 a month, and upgrading to unlimited 3G data will cost an extra $10 on top of that.

So far, Dillon said, GoSmart has signed up “hundreds of thousands” of customers. T-Mobile also sells prepaid service under its own name and through its recently acquired MetroPCS brand, as well as through various partners.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik