Wikipedia seeks global operator partners to enable free access

Translate this post

Probably the most repeated words around the Wikimedia movement are Jimmy Wales’ “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.” The Wikipedia community are the ones creating that world, and the ubiquity of mobile internet is what may actually enable it. With mobile internet users expected to surpass desktop users by 2014, mobile is fast becoming the primary medium by which people around the world can access knowledge. In the Global South particularly, many new mobile internet users are part of a generation whose first and only access to the internet is on mobile. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge to Wikipedia – how do we let these users know that the sum of all knowledge exists in their pocket, and how do we make it free? On the desktop, many readers discovered Wikipedia through search, but on mobile, sessions and queries originate differently. With this in mind, we need the help of partners – namely mobile operators and handset manufacturers – to help ensure the distribution of knowledge.  This is why we’re setting out with a global mobile partnership program.
We are looking for operator partners, particularly in the Global South, to join us in this mission. We want to work with them to help promote the availability of Wikipedia on phones — and, not just on smartphones, but across the range of data and feature phone users. This would include links through bookmarks, decks, and portals as well as marketing messages driving awareness towards the accessibility of free knowledge on mobile. Additionally, we are currently exploring ways to develop feature phone access to Wikipedia through SMS and USSD, and operator partnerships will be core to that initiative as well.
At the center of this whole strategy will be the launch of Wikipedia Zero – a lightweight, text-only version of our mobile site optimized for slower connections. The “zero” part means zero-rated, or rather zero cost to the user. Operator partners would “zero-rate” the custom site, meaning the user would not get charged data fees (nor be required to have a data plan) to access it. This will be a great asset to many mobile users in the Global South, who, although they may have an internet-ready phone, are deterred by data fees. This, to us, is in pursuit of truly enabling the “free” in “freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”
We are working to enlist new global partners now, particularly for Wikipedia Zero.  Mobile partnerships have long been seen as an important priority, but we haven’t had enough manpower to execute them on a fully global scale until now.  I joined the foundation three months ago as part of the global development mobile team (lead by Kul Wadhwa) with enlisting and managing these partnerships as my priority. Kul and I have begun to talk with new partners already, and we hope to announce some soon.  Given that we have a lot of ground to cover, we have to be systematic, so we are focusing first on India and East Asia in Q4 of this year, followed by the Middle East and Africa in Q1 2012, and Latin America in Q2 2012. This coincides in part with the global development programs including India Catalyst, Arabic Catalyst, and Brazil Catalyst.  Of course, we expect there will be some deviations from this sequence.
We’re also working very tightly with the mobile dev/product teams and community to ensure all the innovations and enhancements (including the forthcoming Android release) they are bringing are accessible throughout the world through these partnerships. We look forward to sharing the progress,  learnings, and discoveries here.
Amit Kapoor
Senior Manager, Mobile Partnerships

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

Can you help us translate this article?

In order for this article to reach as many people as possible we would like your help. Can you translate this article to get the message out?

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] This article originally appeared on Wikimedia blog. […]

Such a very nice post dude . i like very much to read this.

[…] are vying for telecom operator deals to enable it. Facebook has it, Twitter is almost there, but the latest to queue up for Size Zero is […]

[…] cała Wolna Encyklopedia jest dostępna z ich urządzeń za darmo? Właśnie w tej sprawie Fundacja postanowiła zwrócić się do operatorów sieci na całym […]

I am agree with ritesh.

Where is the best place to discuss and contribute to the development of Wikipedia Zero?

To make sure that it’s easy for everyone to get involved, we should bring this discussion to the wiki. Normally I would think about doing it on en but this is a multi-language initiative. Everyone cool with starting a page on meta about this? Kul (Head of Mobile @علاء Wikimedia)

Hello, we are a provider and enabler of telematics on global level. We enable companies & organisations to run their own mobile telecom or insource telecom functions. Our solutions come with GSM as basic access to IP networks in more than 170 countries. Our billing can do more and is real time. So the SLA is brilliant and multiple. Most importantly: Wikipedia remains independent from 3rd party provider which has an enormous influence on several levels: prices & performance & politically. Example of our exclusiveness: USSD als real time service has no roaming charges worldwide & is not offered as… Read more »

[…] them. In related news, the Wikimedia Foundation is looking for mobile operator partners for its Wikipedia Zero […]

[…] aside, Wikimedia is also seeking global partners to drive awareness about Wikipedia across phones, irrespective of whether it is a […]

[…] not have access to the Internet and consequently to our content. Work also continued on the “Wikipedia Zero” project, which aims to bring Wikipedia and other Wikimedia content to millions of users […]