Airtel Wikipedia Zero partnership to pilot Wikipedia via text

Today Airtel and the Wikimedia Foundation announced a partnership to launch Wikipedia Zero, an initiative to provide free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones. This partnership with Airtel will help provide Wikipedia access to 70 million new users in sub-saharan Africa, starting in Kenya.
One exciting aspect of this partnership is that we are reaching a group of people we’ve never been able to reach before: mobile phone customers who don’t have internet access.
Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule. That means billions of people currently cannot see Wikipedia on their phones. Which phones? Low-cost basic phones (usually called feature phones or candy-bar phones). Phones like this:

So the challenge is, how do we reach the billions of people in the world who aren’t on the internet?
With text messaging. Even phones like these can send and receive text messages.
So for the first time, we are testing a service to allow access to Wikipedia articles via text message. It can work with any phone, even the most basic feature phone. You don’t even need an application.
How does Wikipedia via text work? A search is started in the same way people already use their phone to check their balance or add airtime. To search for a Wikipedia article through the Airtel partnership, a subscriber simply dials *515# on their phone, and they’ll get a text message inviting them to search Wikipedia. The subscriber enters a topic (like ‘Cheetah’) in the same manner they would send a text message.


Then, two other menus appear that let the subscriber clarify which article they are interested in. The first response is a list of possible matching articles to the search term and the user chooses the best match.

Then the Wikipedia article section headers are listed, and the user chooses which section to read.

So, with only entering a search topic and choosing from a couple of short lists, the subscriber can quickly select any Wikipedia article. At that point, about a paragraph of the article is sent to the phone via text, and the subscriber can respond to continue reading that article.

Without any applications, how does this service work? We’ve partnered with the Praekelt Foundation, a South African nonprofit with expertise in text messaging, to develop the necessary technology. Their service acts as a bridge that communicates between the Wikipedia servers and the Airtel network, converting the customer’s request for articles into the interactive menus and SMS delivery shown above.
We’re launching this service with Airtel Kenya as a three-month pilot in order to learn more about how well this works in practice. From the lessons we learn from this pilot, we hope to eventually make this service widely available to reach the billions of people who have mobile phones, but cannot afford access to the internet.
Dan Foy
Technical Partner Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

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

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[…] “Today Airtel and the Wikimedia Foundation announced a partnership to launch Wikipedia Zero, an initiative to provide free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones. This partnership with Airtel will help provide Wikipedia access to 70 million new users in sub-saharan Africa, starting in Kenya. One exciting aspect of this partnership is that we are reaching a group of people we’ve never been able to reach before: mobile phone customers who don’t have internet access.” (via Wikimedia blog) […]

[…] leveraging a third-party app or extension. To solve this problem, theWikimedia Foundation is launching a free SMS service which provides access for anyone with a basic feature […]

[…] leveraging a third-party app or extension. To solve this problem, the Wikimedia Foundation is launching a free SMS service which provides access for anyone with a basic feature […]

[…] leveraging a third-party app or extension. To solve this problem, the Wikimedia Foundation is launching a free SMS service which provides access for anyone with a basic feature […]

[…] leveraging a third-party app or extension. To solve this problem, the Wikimedia Foundation is launching a free SMS service which provides access for anyone with a basic feature […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] Vía Wikimedia […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] leveraging a third-party app or extension. To solve this problem, the Wikimedia Foundation is launching a free SMS service which provides access for anyone with a …read […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] Foy van Wikipedia meldt dat de proef drie maanden duurt. “Na de lessen die we dan daaruit hebben getrokken, willen we […]

[…] iniciativa en sí ha sido bautizada con el nombre de Wikipedia Zero, y el proyecto consiste en acercar a esta gran enciclopedia online a unos 70 millones de personas […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] territorios. Por eso Wikimedia Foundation, la organización detrás de la enciclopedia virtual, lanzó hoy una nueva herramienta que apunta a permitir el uso del sitio a través de mensajes de texto […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

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[…] que, tras la prueba, Wikipedia Zero se extienda a cualquier otro país. Tal y como se indica en el artículo de Wikimedia Foundation, a lo largo de la mayor parte del mundo en desarrollo, los teléfonos […]

[…] que, tras la prueba, Wikipedia Zero se extienda a cualquier otro país. Tal y como se indica en el artículo de Wikimedia Foundation, a lo largo de la mayor parte del mundo en desarrollo, los teléfonos […]

[…] Airtel Wikipedia Zero partnership to trial Wikipedia via text (wikimedia.org) […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] Airtelはアフリカ17カ国で事業を展開しています。ケニアで3カ月のパイロットサービスが終了した後、他のアフリカ各国にサービスが拡大される可能性は高いでしょう。さらには、アプリケーションもインターネットアクセスも必要がない便利なサービスとして、アフリカ各国で使われるだけでなく、アフリカ発の世界展開されるサービスとなる可能性も秘めているかもしれません。 出所: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24662267 http://diff.wikimedia.org/2013/10/24/airtel-wikipedia-zero-text-trial/ […]

[…] que, tras la prueba, Wikipedia Zero se extienda a cualquier otro país. Tal y como se indica en el artículo de Wikimedia Foundation, a lo largo de la mayor parte del mundo en desarrollo, los teléfonos […]

[…] que, tras la prueba, Wikipedia Zero se extienda a cualquier otro país. Tal y como se indica en elartículo de Wikimedia Foundation, a lo largo de la mayor parte del mundo en desarrollo, los teléfonos […]

[…] उन्होंने  लिखा है, “विकासशील देशों में इंटरनेट की सुविधा वाले स्मार्टफ़ोन अपवाद के रूप में मौजूद हैं, सबके पास नहीं हैं. इसका मतलब यह है कि अरबों लोग अब भी अपने  मोबाइल फ़ोन पर विकीपीडिया  नहीं देख पा रहे.विकीपीडिया ज़ीरो” नाम की इस सेवा को शुरू करने के लिए उपभोक्ताओं को *515# डायल करना होगा जिसके बाद उन्हें लेख ढूँढने के लिए एक संदेश प्राप्त होगा.” […]

[…] sus territorios. Por eso Wikimedia Foundation, la organización detrás de la enciclopedia virtual, lanzó hoy una nueva herramienta que apunta a permitir el uso del sitio a través de mensajes de texto […]

[…] Más información | Wikimedia Blog […]

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[…] to reach before: mobile phone customers who don’t have internet access,” writes Dan Foy in a Wikimedia Foundation blog. “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the […]

[…] most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. “That means billions of people currently cannot see Wikipedia on their […]

[…] це повідомляється на офіційному блозі […]

[…] “Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule,” he wrote. […]

[…] was announced by Dan Foy, Technical Partner Manager at Wikimedia Foundation on Wikimedia’s blog recently, that the service tagged ‘Wikipedia Zero‘ is in partnership with Airtel and […]

We need that enabled everywhere :-] In Europe there is a lot of places where one would lack Wifi/Edge/3G 😀

[…] leveraging a third-party app or extension. To solve this problem, the Wikimedia Foundation is launching a free SMS service which provides access for anyone with a basic feature phone. Read the full article […]

It is good initiative for keneya, if it is possible this project may be taken other countries also. India is my country, the second positioned country in population. It would be more popular in Indians.