For the first time, Wikipedia is now available on mobile free of data charges in Asia. On Monday May 21st, Digi in Malaysia began offering Wikipedia Zero, Wikimedia’s program to reduce cost as a barrier for accessing knowledge on mobile devices. In addition to being the first in Asia, Digi is also the first operator in the Telenor group to roll out the program.
Digi’s 10 million customers can read as many Wikipedia articles as they like (provided they have an internet-capable phone), in any language, through the Opera Mini browser without accruing data fees. The free access applies to the lightweight, text-only mobile version of Wikipedia, which Digi customers can now access by going to zero.wikipedia.org. Adding to the list of firsts, Digi is the first partner we have worked with to release the text-only site, which is especially beneficial to users with slower connection speeds or lower-end phones. Users can of course still see an image if they go one click deeper, but the download of that image may not be excluded from data charges.
To promote free use of Wikipedia, Digi has placed a link on top of their DigiLive Zero portal on Opera Mini. We are also beginning to work with them, along with all of our current and upcoming partners, to experiment with additional ways to promote the availability of free Wikipedia – and ultimately free knowledge – within their communities.
It’s the beginning of an exciting time, and one in which we hope we can bring the gift of knowledge to a whole new set of people. We’re approaching it in an analytical way, too, and will be measuring the impact these Wikipedia Zero implementations have on both overall page views in the regions along with the increase in local language readership. Malaysia is now the third country in which Wikipedia is available for free on mobile (Tunisia and Uganda are the other two; updates from there coming soon), and many more will be launching in the coming months.