Tech Crunch is reporting that Facebook is teaming up with carriers to provide a "social calling" service. Initially striking up a deal with Orange France, it seems the service will allow friends to make voice calls without knowing each other's numbers.
The service will apparently allow users to make calls from mobile and desktop flavours of Facebook, using ties on Facebook, rather than possession of a phone number, to allow calling. It'll also apparently support group calls, too.
The service will be powered by Orange's new IP-based call app Libon — already available on iOS — which is effectively a mobile Skype competitor. The Facebook social calling service is planned to go live in France during the summer of 2013. Orange's reach spreads far and wide across Europe including to EE in the UK, though, so it seems likely that the service's tentacles will spread.
It remains unclear how quickly that will happen, of course, and whether or not Facebook plans to roll it out to the UK any time soon. It's also not clear how consumers will embrace the news: while there's certainly a shift towards voice calls being made online, the idea of any Facebook contact calling at will is maddening even in theory. [Tech Crunch]