Aircel customers can now access Wikipedia on mobile phones without any data charges. In a partnership that was announced yesterday, the telecom operator Aircel along with the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates the free encyclopaedia ‘Wikipedia’, have formed an alliance at making knowledge freely available for anyone.
As part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Zero program – which focuses on reaching the billions of people around the world whose primary opportunity to access the internet is via a mobile device – this partnership will help provide Wikipedia to 60 million new users in the country. Globally, Aircel has been one of the contributors in providing free access to Wikipedia Zero to 470 million mobile users. And, Aircel also becomes the first to bring this program in India.
Aircel customers will be able to access versions of Wikipedia in English, Hindi, Tamil, and 17 other Indic languages via Wikipedia Zero.
#IWikiWhen on Twitter
The partnership was also promoted simultaneously through social media. The Aircel India Twitter account conducted a day long contest where Twitter users were asked to tweet with the hashtag #IWikiWhen. The most witty tweet could win an HTC One.
— Aircel (@Aircel) July 25, 2013
The promotions seem to be limited to the Twitter contest and nothing much can be seen on the Aircel Facebook page other than an update on the wall about the announcement.
Partnering with Wikimedia will work in the favour of Aircel where the service provider will help people with mobile as the primary source of accessing the internet to be able access the vast knowledge of Wikipedia free of cost. The new service will be available for Aircel’s 60 million subscribers which will only boost the ongoing Wikipedia Zero initiative.
With Wikipedia Zero initiative coming to India, the non-profit organization strengthens it’s base in the emerging markets. Asia has been also a core focus of Wikipedia which landed in Malaysia last year and it arrived in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, followed by Pakistan in May 2013 and Sri Lanka the following month. Wikipedia Zero has been made available in 17 territories globally.
But India is a different market and it has its own challenges. Speaking to TNW, Amit Kapoor Senior Manager, Mobile Partnerships, at the Wikimedia Foundation shared that the challenge in India is not just about distribution and cost, though it’s also about language. He further added:
“India has no national language, but there are 22 recognized official languages in the country. Many Indians are not only accessing the internet for the first time on mobile, but also non-English content is becoming accessible for the first time via mobile.”
Today 14.5% of all Wikipedia page views are now arriving via mobile. Definitely a country like India which is turning into mobile first country will play a larger role in the growth of Wikipedia Zero.