Digital security company Gemalto NV has developed an application that embeds Facebook on SIM cards, letting GSM phone users stay connected on the social networking site even if without data plans.

The Amsterdam-based company's Facebook for SIM app runs in the phone’s SIM card, uses the SMS technology, and gives users access to basic Facebook features such as friend requests, status updates, wall posts or messages.

With this announcement, Gemalto brings Facebook to millions of mobile phone users regardless of their handset type, the company said.

The app also offers unique functions: people can sign up for this service and log-in directly from the SIM application. Interactive Facebook messages pop-up on the phone’s screen so people can always share up-to-the-minute posts and events. Users can also automatically search their SIM phonebook for other friends and send them requests.

Gemalto said it has embedded the software application into the subscriber identity module (SIM). No data contract or application download is needed, because the software is embedded in the SIM. A SIM card stores personal identity information, cell phone number, phone book, text messages etc. It stores the service-subscriber key which is used to identify the subscriber over a network.

As a result, it works for prepaid as well as for pay-monthly customers, said Gemalto. Following an initial limited free trial period, Facebook for SIM then operates on a subscription model via an unlimited pass for a given period of time.

Gemalto said the new app enables operators to leverage two of their main assets: the SMS to communicate with the web application and the SIM for application distribution to the masses.

Over 200 million people already use Facebook on handsets and those are twice as active as non-mobile users, said Philippe Vallee, Executive Vice President, Gemalto. By providing anytime, anywhere availability to the social network, Gemalto delivers on the growing demand for mobile connectivity all over the world.