Telenor Group and the Wikimedia Foundation Tuesday announced a new partnership to offer Wikipedia free of traffic charges on mobile devices to Telenor customers in Asia and Southeastern Europe.
By making versions of Wikipedia available to 135 million mobile customers, Telenor Group and the Wikimedia Foundation demonstrate a shared commitment to increasing access to the free and open knowledge available on Wikipedia, the Norway-based telecom giant stated in a release.
According to Wikimedia Foundation, the initiative is a part of its mobile strategy, which focuses on reaching the billions of people around the world whose primary opportunity to access the Internet is via a mobile device.
“The Wikimedia Foundation is working to remove barriers to free knowledge, and for most people around the world right now, cost and accessibility are the two biggest hurdles,” says Barry Newstead, Wikimedia’s Chief Global Development Officer.
“We applaud Telenor for joining us to deliver free access to Wikipedia for their customers. Through this partnership, we move a step closer to providing the sum of all knowledge to everyone in the world,” Newstead added.
The telecom group stated that the partnership demonstrates its commitment to bring more value to its mobile customers. It said the company has pioneered the development of value-added services to rural and underserved communities in Asia.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Wikimedia Foundation. Telenor has pioneered affordable, mobile communications across much of Asia, and we have built a track record of offering vital services with a significant outreach,” Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Services at Telenor Group, Kristin Skogen Lund, said.
“With this agreement, we are first in Asia to bring a vast knowledge source to the millions in underserved communities across the region,” Lund added.
The 3-year partnership between Telenor Group and the Wikimedia Foundation will cover 135 million users. The agreement is signed by seven countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Montenegro and Serbia. By the end of the year, more markets are expected to join. The agreement will be implemented step by step throughout 2012, with the first markets launching during the second quarter, the company said.
Each local Telenor affiliate will establish technical solutions together with the Wikimedia Foundation. Customers with a Telenor SIM will be able to access a version of the encyclopedia as many times as they like in a given period, at no charge, as long as they stay within Wikipedia’s pages.