We invite mobile operators all over the world to join our mission.
Imagine a world in which every single human being on the planet has equal access to the sum of all knowledge.
Together, we are creating the most comprehensive encyclopedia that has ever existed - Wikipedia.
Since early 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit that supports Wikipedia) has been leading a program called Wikipedia Zero, which works with mobile carriers to waive the data charges for accessing Wikipedia on mobile phones.
Roughly 6 out of every 7 people today have access to a mobile phone. We invite mobile operators all over the world to join our mission.
Wikipedia belongs to all of us.
The Wikipedia Zero initiative is based on partnerships with mobile phone operators, whereby the operator agrees to deploy a version of Wikipedia in such a way that their users do not need to pay for data access.
Benefits to partners
The benefits to users and the Wikimedia movement are clear. For supporting the mission, and undertaking the costs associated with deployment and data, the partner operator can also realize a number of very practical benefits. The first of which is the positive marketing and PR benefit of supporting the program, and the opportunity of offering a unique and distinct service to new and potential customers. Data shows that 28% of existing readers would be more likely to buy services from an operator that provided Wikipedia Zero. Finally, by making it free and easy to access Wikipedia, a new generation of customers will be introduced to the mobile web for the first time—and, for many, will be seeing the true utility of it by learning to navigate Wikipedia.
Purpose and mission
We want to enable access to free knowledge for every single person on the planet. For many readers in developing countries, their primary (and often only) access to the internet is via mobile. However, there are known barriers that keep users in these regions from reading Wikipedia and accessing free knowledge on their mobile devices:
Cost: While handset prices have reduced sharply around the world, data costs are still prohibitively expensive for many users. For example, while over 60% of individuals at the economic Base of the Pyramid in Kenya have mobile phones, the cost of mobile services can be over 25% of their monthly income. Additionally, nearly 1 in 5 have reported that they will forgo a usual expenditure (such as food) in order to reload phone credit.
Awareness: In a purely desktop world, many people discovered Wikipedia through search engines, and high rankings on search results provided credibility and brand equity for the site. With mobile, though, sessions originate in a more diverse fashion, be it through apps, bookmarks, or even the ‘old-fashioned’ method of direct domain access to familiar sites. Wikipedia Zero operator partners drive awareness through various marketing campaigns and links through their portals.
We are addressing these barriers because we believe access to knowledge is a fundamental human right. There are two outcomes to this. First, new readers will be encouraged to access free knowledge for the first time, knowing where it is available and that it is without cost. Second, existing readers will not be obstructed from accessing knowledge whenever they need and want it.
Concept and experience
An operator partner can take part in the Wikipedia Zero program by zero-rating (note here that the term "zero-rate" refers to waiving data charges to access) the mobile version of Wikipedia (located at m.wikipedia.org) in each of the most common languages of their country.
Wikipedia Zero itself is not a separate product from the core Wikipedia mobile site. An original version of the Wikipedia Zero program zero-rated free access to a lightweight, text-only version (located at zero.wikipedia.org) of the Wikipedia mobile site. While several existing partners still offer this version of the program, it will be phased out in favor of the "full version."
As part of the incentive for operators to participate in Wikipedia Zero, there will be a banner atop the zero-rated Wikipedia page showing the operator's name. The contents of the banner will be text only, with exact text to be negotiated with each operator (eg, "Free Wikipedia Access from Partner"). When a user clicks on a link outside of Wikipedia (or, on an image in the case of the text-only version), the banner becomes a warning message confirming that the user wants to proceed.
Awards and recognition
- 2012 Africa News Innovation Challenge
- 2013 Knight News Challenge
- 2013 SXSW Interactive Award for Activism
- "Mobile Usage at the Base of the Pyramid in Kenya" from the World Bank