Digicel and the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia and its sister projects, announced a partnership today to offer free access to Wikipedia to all Digicel customers, whether they are subscribed to a data plan or not. The collaboration is part of Wikipedia Zero, an initiative to give people unlimited access to Wikipedia free of data charges from their mobile devices, in alignment with Wikimedia’s mission to provide access to knowledge and information.
Currently an estimated 400 million mobile subscribers have free access to Wikipedia, thanks to 41 operators in 34 countries who have already joined Wikipedia Zero. The Digicel agreement will extend free mobile access to Digicel’s customers in 31 markets across the Caribbean, Central America, and Asia Pacific.
Digicel Haiti customers will be the first to take advantage of the collaboration with the service launching there today.
Even prior to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 70% of all Haitians were living on less than $US2 a day and the country was the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. While recovery from the 2010 earthquake has been slow but steady, access to connectivity via mobile phones has shown tremendous improvement across the country. Today, Digicel Haiti has more than four million mobile subscribers.
“We know that our customers want to get the best value out of their handsets. With mobile penetration growing exponentially in the region and more and more people using their mobile phones as educational tools, we are delighted to be bringing the joys of Wikipedia to our customers at no charge,” said Maarten Boute, Chairman of Digicel Haiti.
Wikipedia is the largest collection of free knowledge ever assembled. It is a collaborative creation by volunteer editors from all over the world. Across its more than 280 language versions Wikipedia contains more than 33.5 million articles, attracting nearly half a billion unique visitors every month and more than 20 billion monthly page views. Every month roughly 70,000 people actively edit Wikipedia.
“We are committed to ensuring that people not only have access to the knowledge on Wikipedia without barriers on mobile phones with no data charges, but that they can become knowledge creators themselves, and build strong communities of the future. We are therefore very excited about the collaboration with Digicel where the potential to open up the knowledge on Wikipedia to new audiences is immense, and the impact in communities such as Haiti could be transformative.” said Carolynne Schloeder, Head of Global Partnerships with the Wikimedia Foundation.
Wikipedia Zero is available via a free app downloadable in the Google Play store, the iTunes store, or at www.wikipedia.org