Facebook launches 'fast and free' new mobile site

Facebook said Tuesday it has teamed up with mobile operators in nearly 50 countries to offer a fast and free version of the popular social networking site on cellphones.

"We've put all the graphics, the photos, the videos one click away so the site is text only and the pages are super light, super fast to load," said Henri Moissinac, head of mobile business for Facebook.

The new mobile site, 0.facebook.com, is "optimized for speed and it's free," Moissinac told AFP.

He said it was designed to get around the "biggest barriers to the mobile Internet - the speed of the experience and the potential cost of browsing."

It will be available from 56 mobile operators in 47 countries.

"The total subscriber base of all of these operators is about 500 million users," Moissinac said. "So potentially you have 500 million mobile subscribers who could access Facebook mobile for free on their phone."

He said there were currently over 100 million active users of Facebook's present mobile site, m.facebook.com and the new site would allow the Palo Alto, California-based social network to expand its reach on the devices.

"Our goal in mobile is to serve every user on every phone in every language on every network," he said.

Users of 0.facebook.com can update their status, see their News Feed, comment on posts and send and reply to messages like on Facebook.com.

They will be charged, however, if they want to see photos or videos.

"They have a link that says click here to see the photos," Moissinac said. "When they click to see the photos there'll be a disclaimer that says 'Just so you know you're going to be paying data charges for these photos.'"

He said 0.facebook.com was designed to be a "permanent service." "All of the operators are committed to making 0.facebook.com free for more than 12 months," Moissinac said.

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