Burundi’s Econet Wireless and Zimbabwe’s ForgetMeNot Africa companies have announced a new SMS service called ‘eco-msg‘ set to give any mobile phone access to Internet services.
The new service will make it easy for phones that are not Internet-enabled to access Internet via SMS without having to register for the service, as it has previously been the procedure. Users will however not be able to download data.
The technology converts emails, Facebook messages and chats into SMS format and vice versa – hence eco-msg users would not require Internet access, data connections, smartphones or subscriptions to access information as initially required.
This means users in Burundi can use low-Internet messaging using various standard SMS-capaple mobile phones without having to connect to the Internet.
ForgetMeNot Africa says the service is set to create virtual smartphones for the Burundian population.
Econet Wireless is the second largest mobile telecom company in Burundi with over 600,000 subscribers. Reports show that only 1.5 percent of Burundi’s population of 10 million people have access to Internet. This is a far cry from the country’s East African neighbours including Kenya whereover 43% of about 40 million people have access to Internet.
Econet Wireless has previously operated in Kenya. It is the predecessor of Essar Global, the service provider behind Yu Mobile brand. Yu Mobile is also using ForgetMeNot Platform to help enable its users access the Internet through text messaging.
As the profit margin for voice decreases, more telecom companies are turning to sell data in any multimedia forms to ensure maximized profitability.