Facebook has a new app called Discover, and its part of a new “Free Basics Initiative” that offers wireless subscribers a free, but limited, amount of data per day. This data can only be used for “low-bandwidth traffic data”, mostly browsing on websites. The point of this free data is for users to be able to keep connected even after their data salary runs out.
In Peru, where the Discover app is initially available, most mobile users pay for data and minutes on a pay-as-you-go basis. Although data and plans are relatively cheap, there are many rural areas of Peru where income is more limited. These days, it’s even more difficult because COVID-19 has severely affected the tourism industry in Peru.
Participating carriers in Peru include Bitel, Claro, Entel, and Movistar and the way it works is subscribers can hop onto text-only websites either using the Android App or via a mobile browser by going to 0.discoverapp.com. I can say from personal observation, that many folks in Peru still use feature phones – especially in these rural areas. Each day, subscribers are notified how much free data they receive.
Free traffic is routed through the app or website via a proxy and Facebook claims that the app doesn’t use data to personalize targeted ads or suggest new friends and pages. A Facebook account isn’t required to use Discover and the product has its own separate terms and conditions.
Facebook plans to roll out more Discover trials with other partners in other countries including Thailand, the Philippines, and Iraq “in the coming weeks”.