With the growing craze about social networking platforms among the Indian youth, telcos are looking to woo these social generation, with new, innovative and exciting packs target solely for social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Earlier many companies have enrolled special Facebook or Social packs that provide free data access exclusively to specific social networking sites. Now India’s another leading operator has launched yet another innovative service based on this craze. But now, without the need of any data connections.
Embarking ahead in its effort of providing innovative value added services, Tata DOCOMO, the unified telecom brand of Tata Teleservices Limited, has rolled out a never before service for its ardent Facebook crazed users – Facebook Check-In using USSD. Now Tata DOCOMO GSM customers can access this service and check in their current location on Facebook without the requirement of any internet, GPS or mobile data services.
Facebook Check-In is a unique location-based service launched by Tata DOCOMO which allows a user to “Check-In” to a location over USSD. This Check-in will appear on your Facebook profile just like the same way you do with the web interface or your smartphone app. When you use Check-in, you share your physical location with other people on the social network who have access to your profile as per your privacy settings.
Now you might be wondering how the app will be aware of your location without GPS or internet. Let me make things clear for you. The service uses the readily available geo-location information from your cell. This is what that is called as network location in Android smartphones. In this an estimated (not precise, but enough for facebook check ins) location is assumed from the location of the current base station. Since base stations are located within a small radius of your mobile, usually 2 or 3 kilometres, this location estimation is pretty accurate.
This service shall use Tata DOCOMO’s network platform to identify user’s location and hence eliminates the need of a GPS enabled phone. Your location is assumed to be the base station your SIM card is currently operating with.
To use this service, you can dial *325*50# from your Tata DOCOMO GSM mobile and share “where you are” on your Facebook page anytime, anywhere without the need of any internet or GPS. This service will be charged at a modest Re 1/- per use.
With the growth of smartphones and high speed internet access through 3G and (upcoming) 4G LTE, such a service may seem illogical. But in reality, mobile internet infrastructure has a long way to go in India. Still many cities lack good mobile broadband coverage. 3G services are also not available in all parts of the covered circles too. Moreover, a large segment of Indian youth do not carry data enabled devices. However, social services are a craze among them and is rapidly booming with thousands of new users joining such sites solely from mobile devices. In such a scenario, companies are ready to get most out of the users, along with providing innovative services which will attract many potential users to the network and increase their profits manifold. So, in short, such a move is highly appreciable. And yes, use of this technology is not new, it has been widely in use for mobile number tracking purposes and even in smartphones for location estimation.
The service is first service Tata DOCOMO rolls out to the market in collaboration with their partners U2opia Mobile. In addition to check-ins, TATA and U2opia Mobile have also rolled out a Facebook Messaging service for users without mobile Internet access on their phone which is accessible through standard SMS services.
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