Wikimedia, a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world, under its project Wikipedia Zero has announced partnership with Aircel for 3 years. The deal will allow Aircel customers in India, both in rural and urban areas, an access to Wikipedia content on mobile phones without any data charges.
Its the first service of its kind that has been formally launched in India, it is expected to help 60 million Aircel users across the region in providing access to Wikipedia learning content.
Anupam Vasudev, Chief Marketing Officer for Aircel, said, this partnership will not only help in making internet services reach wider audience but will also provide access to knowledge and information free of cost.
“We are excited about this partnership and hope this initiative will benefit all our customers from various age groups,” he added. The users can access the service only on the mobile web version available at m.wikipedia.org, or zero.wikipedia.org but not on the native Wikipedia mobile apps. Also, the free access will not be available in roaming.
However, in a country like India, the challenge is not only about the distribution of information or the cost, but also the language. There are around 22 recognized official languages in the country along with many region oriented languages.
Keeping all that under consideration, non-English content will also be made accessible for the first time via mobile. Customers will be able to access versions of Wikipedia in 19 languages including Hindi (hi), Bengali (bn), Marathi (mr), Urdu (ur), Gujarati (gu), Sindhi (sd),Punjabi (pa), Assamese (as), Nepali (ne), Kashmiri (ks) and Sanskrit (sa), etc.
Recently Aircel has also introduced Pocket Internet 24, which offers internet at less than 1 rupee a day.
Wikipedia Zero is available in 17 territories across the world and in Asia it is available in Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia. Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 517 million unique visitors per month, making them the fifth-most popular web property worldwide (comScore, April 2013). Wikipedia contains more than 25 million articles in more than 285 languages contributed by around 80,000 people.