Cell C is partnering with Facebook to bring zero-rated access to the service for all Cell C customers, as well as offering access to Facebook’s free basic services on Internet.org.

“Facebook is one of the most popular services used by our customers to stay in touch with friends and family globally where Facebook is available and this offering will make it more affordable for them to connect with those closest to them,” says Cell C CEO, Jose Dos Santos.

From 1 July, Facebook usage will be free to all existing and new post-paid, top-up and prepaid customers and will continue until 31 August 2015.

Customers will be able to use Messenger, post comments and pictures, view and share posts and pictures and view News Feed and profiles at no charge. Breakout Internet browsing, VOIP calling, Facebook videos, YouTube and Instagram will be charged for at standard data rates or will deplete data bundles where applicable.

All post-paid and top-up customers will automatically get free access to Facebook and Internet.org free basic services while prepaid customers need to ensure they recharge once every 30 days to show they are active on the network.

Internet.org was developed by Facebook and its technology partners to create a way to bring affordable Internet access to under-served communities. Through network operator partnerships, that have the drive to bring these basic services to customers for free, Facebook has launched this service in many under-serviced countries in Africa and around the world, including India, Ghana and Kenya.

Now, through Cell C, South Africa is the next country to offer Facebook’s connectivity to the unconnected.

“We are proud to be partnering with an organisation that shares our vision of bringing much-needed services to communities and in doing so, positively changing lives,” says Dos Santos.

“We are excited to bring Internet.org free basic services to Cell C customers in South Africa,” says Markku Makelainen, director of global operator partnerships at Facebook. “With Internet.org free basic services, more people in
South Africa will have access to resources and information that can create new opportunities and ideas, and help improve their lives.”

Bringing access to those that need it most has become a national imperative, with only 10,9% of South African households having access to the Internet at home. And the growth of access is slow, showing a mere 0,9% increase year-on-year according to Stats SA’s 2014 General Household Survey.

“Cell C understands that some South Africans, specifically those in rural areas, need to travel exceptionally long distances to find work, or information on healthcare or education,” says Dos Santos. “The launch of Internet.org will make the world a little smaller and information far more accessible to them.”

The Internet.org free basic services initiative will provide Cell C customers with access to free services like healthcare information, education sites and job searches.

From 1 September for a period of 12 months, customers who want to continue using Messenger, post comments, view and share posts and view News Feed and profiles free of charge, can do so by accessing Facebook through the Internet.org application or website.

Viewing and posting pictures, as well as, breakout Internet browsing, VoIP calling, Facebook videos, YouTube and Instagram will be charged at standard data rates or will deplete data bundles where available. Customers will also have the option to buy Cell C data bundles while on Facebook or Internet.org.

During the 12-month period, all the sites available through Internet.org on the Cell C network will remain free when accessing links through the application.