What’s in it for us? asks Colao
Britain’s Vodafone has snubbed a request from Facebook to ‘zero rate’ its content in certain emerging markets, the operator’s CEO Vittorio Colao has revealed. Speaking in New York where he was addressing Vodafone shareholders before the sale of its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless later this month, Colao told how he had been approached by Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook’s chief operating officer – to exclude the cost of access to the social networking site so that, in poorer countries, it didn’t count towards a subscriber’s data plan. But Colao said he declined the request because “it does not make any sense . . . there is no reason why I should give my network capacity for free.”
Having reached near saturation point in the west and more affluent countries, Facebook – which boasts a billion-plus members – is turning its attention to developing nations, but is hindered by the fact that many consumers in the latter are cautious about the high cost of using the internet on their mobiles.
Colao revealed that, in addition to Facebook, other internet content providers were pressing mobile operators to zero rate content. He added: “Every content provider in the world would like mobile operators to exclude their content from data plans – it’s a great opportunity to push data usage up – but that would be conceptually wrong for our business model.”
He did concede, however, that Vodafone might be open to other arrangements such as sponsored or paid-for data that would not count towards a subscriber’s monthly data plan, as long as all content providers were treated equally.
Facebook declined to comment on Colao’s remarks.
* Vodafone and MoneyGram, the global money transfer and payment service, have teamed up to let consumers transfer funds directly from around 200 countries to the millions of users of M-Pesa. The service will be launched in key markets during the second quarter of this year, with additional roll-out planned throughout the remainder of 2014.
It means users of MoneyGram’s 334,000 bureaus across the globe can send funds directly to M-Pesa accounts in places like the Congo,Egypt, South Africa and India.