Facebook is launching a new mobile site designed to be a speedier and cheaper option to its main mobile site.
The new site, at http://0.facebook.com, has no photos or graphics, only text, so it loads faster, and the more than 50 mobile carriers partnering with Facebook will not charge users any data fees when visiting the site.
This way, the site removes two key hurdles to mobile Web usage -- slowness and high costs -- in many parts of the world, said Henri Moissinac , Facebook's head of mobile business.
The current carrier partners offer service in about 40 countries to a total potentially addressable market of about 500 million people. However, one country that isn't covered is the U.S., where Facebook mobile usage is different in nature, he said.
"In mobile in the U.S., Facebook is doing very well with 3G, unlimited data plans and smartphones, so we're working to provide richer and deeper experiences with carriers and phone makers," Moissinac said.
Participating carriers have committed to offering at least 12 months of free access to the site. They include Telenor in Denmark, Digicel in Barbados, TIM in Brazil, Claro in Honduras and T-Mobile in Hungary.
Only subscribers to the partner carriers can access the site, but Facebook hopes to sign up many more partners and thus extend its availability, he said.
The site gives users the option of clicking on links to view photos, but first alerts them that the action could trigger data charges, he said.
Other than lacking photos and graphics, the stripped-down site offers all the features available on the regular Facebook mobile site, according to Moissinac.