Internet companies are connecting the next billion people. Logically they start in countries with fewer or no mobile data connections. Wikipedia launched Zero, Facebook started internet.org. Their main goal: knowledge and convincing people the internet adds value to life.
Wikipedia Zero allows mobile subscribers to access Wikipedia for free, with no data charges. The programme has already been launched in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Jordan and Bangladesh, and this year also added Kosovo, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan.
“When people have internet access, they can stay close to family and friends”, Mark Zuckerberg says at Mobile World Congress. “With internet access people can communicate and find customers and even new customers, have access to information on health and education. Internet access increases people’s chances to find real jobs and companies. Hence, internet.org has grown business. Although the infrastructure to connect people costs money, we have to build it faster. The focus is finding ways to make process faster on the goals they have.”
Mr. Zuckerberg says that in the long term, providing free data access will provide revenues to operators. Users will experience internet adds value and be more inclined to pay for it.
Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales sees people in less developed countries getting educated from Wikipedia Zero. “Imagine a world in which everyone has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s the Wikipedia mission statement and it just won’t happen until everyone has access to the internet.”
“Real and long term access will only come when everyone has the internet on their own mobile device. The internet boom we experienced in the 90’s is happening now, again. These people aren’t different, they’re like us wanting information and reading news on their mobiles.”
Wales says 54 operators worldwide have agreed on providing free data access, which will give some 400 million people in 46 countries access to Wikipedia.
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