Twitter to reach phones without internet, thanks to U2opia Mobile

Social media network Twitter has tied up with Singapore-based start up U2opia Mobile to make its 140-character messaging service available to users in emerging markets who have entry-level mobile phones which cannot access the internet.

U2opia Mobile has a similar tie-up with Facebook.

The Singapore-based firm will launch its Twitter service in the first quarter of next year.

U2opia Mobile CEO and co-founder Sumesh Menon told Reuters that users will need to dial a simple code to get a feed of the popular trending topics on Twitter.

Twitter with around 230 million users is valued at around $25 billion.

More than 11 million people use U2opia’s Fonetwish service, which helps access Facebook and Google Talk on mobile without a data connection.

U2opia uses a telecom protocol named USSD, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, which does not allow viewing of pictures, videos or other graphics.
USSD as a vehicle for Twitter is almost hand in glove because Twitter has by design a character limit, it’s a very text-driven social network.

Eight out of 10 people in emerging markets are still not accessing data on their phone, he said.

U2opia, which is present in 30 countries in seven international languages, will localize the Twitter feed according to the location of the user.

The company, whose biggest markets are Africa and South America, partners with telecom carriers such as Telenor, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel Ltd. U2opia usually gets 30 to 40 percent of what users pay its telecom partners to access Fonetwish.

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