This article needs to be updated.(April 2018)
Wikipedia Zero was a project by the Wikimedia Foundation to provide Wikipedia free of charge on mobile phones via zero-rating, particularly in developing markets. The objective of the program was to increase access to free knowledge, in particular without data-usage cost. With 97 operators in over 72 countries, it is estimated that access to Wikipedia was provided to more than 800 million people through the program. The program has ended in 2018.
The program was launched in 2012, and won a 2013 South by Southwest Interactive Award for activism. After having received criticism over the years for violating the principle of net neutrality, in February 2018, the project announced the end of the initiative, which stated that it would take a new strategy on partnerships. Despite providing service to 900 million persons, the project was seen as jeopardized by a lack of growth, and by the declining price of cell phone data.
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A brief history of launches is provided within that map above.
In addition to that, Wikimedia Foundation: mobile network partners has a complete list of participating mobile networks and launch dates.
- Malaysia, on 12 May (Digi Telecommunications)
- Kenya, on 26 July 2012 (Orange S.A.)
- October 2012: Thailand, on October 2012 (dtac; Saudi Arabia with Saudi Telecom Company
- May 2013: Pakistan, with Mobilink
- June 2013: Sri Lanka, with Dialog Axiata
- October 2013: Jordan, with Umniah; Bangladesh, with Banglalink
- April 2014: Kosovo, on the IPKO network
- May 2014: Nepal, with Ncell and in Kyrgyzstan with Beeline
- May 2014: Nigeria, with Airtel Nigeria
- October 2014: Ukraine, with Kyivstar
- December 2014: Ghana, with MTN Ghana
- December 2014: Angola, with Unitel S.A.
- Algeria, on January 2015 ( Djezzy)
- Moldova, on July 2015 (Moldcell)
- March 2017: Iraq with Asiacell
- September 2017: Afghanistan with Roshan
Reception and impact
The Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones of Chile ruled that zero-rating services like Wikipedia Zero, Facebook Zero, and Google Free Zone, that subsidize mobile data usage, violate net neutrality laws and had to end the practice by 1 June 2014. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has said, "Whilst we appreciate the intent behind efforts such as Wikipedia Zero, ultimately zero rated services are a dangerous compromise." Accessnow.org has been more critical, saying, "Wikimedia has always been a champion for open access to information, but it's crucial to call out zero-rating programs for what they are: Myopic deals that do great damage to the future of the open internet". The Wikimedia Foundation's Gayle Karen Young defended the program to The Washington Post, saying, "We have a complicated relationship to net neutrality. We believe in net neutrality in America", while adding that Wikipedia Zero required a different perspective in other countries: "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge".
Journalist Hilary Heuler argues that "for many, zero-rated programs would limit online access to the 'walled gardens' offered by the web heavyweights. For millions of users, Facebook and Wikipedia would be synonymous with 'internet'." In 2015, researchers evaluating how the similar program Facebook Zero shapes information and communications technology use in the developing world found that 11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also said they did not use the Internet. 65% of Nigerians, and 61% of Indonesians agree with the statement that "Facebook is the Internet" compared with only 5% in the United States.
An article in Vice magazine notes that the free access via Wikipedia Zero made Wikimedia Commons a preferred way for its users in Bangladesh and elsewhere to share copyrighted material illicitly. This caused problems at Wikimedia Commons (where uploading media that is not free-licensed is forbidden). The Vice article is critical of the situation created by Wikipedia Zero and of the backlash among Wikimedia Commons editors, arguing: "Because they can't afford access to YouTube and the rest of the internet, Wikipedia has become the internet for lots of Bangladeshis. What's crazy, then, is that a bunch of more-or-less random editors who happen to want to be the piracy police are dictating the means of access for an entire population of people."
- Russell, Brandon (22 February 2013). "Wikipedia Zero Wants to Bring Wikipedia to Mobile Users Without a Data Plan". TechnoBuffalo. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Wadhwa, Kul Takanao (22 February 2013). "Getting Wikipedia to the people who need it most". Knight Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 July 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- "Wikipedia Zero - Wikimedia Foundation". wikimediafoundation.org. Archived from the original on 22 April 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
- Sofge, Erik (8 March 2013). "SXSW: Wikipedia for Non-Smartphones Is Brilliant. Here's Why". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Riese, Monica (12 March 2013). "SXSW Interactive Awards Announced". The Austin Chronicle. Austin, Texas: Austin Chronicle Corp. ISSN 1074-0740. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- "Net Neutrality and the Global Digital Divide". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 24 July 2014. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- "Wikipedia Zero and net neutrality: Wikimedia turns its back on the open internet". accessnow.org. 8 August 2014. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- "Building for the future of Wikimedia with a new approach to partnerships – Wikimedia Diff". Wikimedia Foundation. 16 February 2018. Archived from the original on 18 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
- Tiwari, Aditya (19 February 2018). "Free 'Wikipedia Zero' Is Shutting Down After Serving 800 Million Users". Fossbytes. Archived from the original on 25 June 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
- Dillon, Conon (18 December 2013). "Wikipedia Zero: free data if you can afford it". Archived from the original on 23 January 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "Wikipedia Zero launches in Malaysia with Digi — Wikimedia Diff". Diff.wikimedia.org. 26 May 2012. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Mobilink brings Wikipedia Zero to Pakistan". nation.com.pk. Archived from the original on 22 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Mobilink brings Wikipedia Zero to Pakistan". Mobilink. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- "Wikipedia FREE". Dialog. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Tech Talk | Wikipedia Zero | A righteous initiative for accessing free knowledge". Archive.thedailystar.net. 2 December 2013. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "Banglalink launches Wikipedia Zero :: Financial Express :: Financial Newspaper of Bangladesh". Thefinancialexpress-bd.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "Kosovo's Largest Foreign Investment Sets Tone for Innovation". www.the-american-times.com. Hazlehurst Media SA. 22 July 2014. Archived from the original on 2 May 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- "Wikipedia Zero arrives in Nepal via Ncell and you don't have to pay a Paisa to use it". Archived from the original on 12 July 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
- "Beeline открыл бесплатный доступ к Wikipedia для своих абонентов". Archived from the original on 13 August 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- "Wikimedia Foundation partners with Airtel Nigeria to offer free Wikipedia access to subscribers — TechCabal". 29 May 2014. Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- "Абоненти "Київстар" можуть користуватися Wikipedia з нульовим балансом на рахунку". Kyivstar. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
- "MTN Ghana empowers customers with free access to Wikipedia". myjoyonline.com. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- "MTN Ghana empowers customers with free access to Wikipedia". myjoyonline.com. Ghana News Agency. 22 December 2014. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- "Djezzy lance l'accès gratuit a Wikipedia". Archived from the original on 11 July 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
- Wood, Mike (13 July 2015). "Moldcell Joins the Free Wikipedia Access Revolution". Tech.co.
- "Asiacell to offer free access to Wikipedia in Iraq". AFP. Archived from the original on 10 January 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
- Fingas, Jon (18 February 2018). "Wikipedia ends no-cost mobile access for developing countries". Engadget. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- Mirani, Leo (30 May 2014). "Less than zero – When net neutrality backfires: Chile just killed free access to Wikipedia and Facebook". Quartz. Archived from the original on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- McKenzie, Jessica (2 June 2014). "Face Off in Chile: Net Neutrality v. Human Right to Facebook & Wikipedia". Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- "Wikipedia's 'complicated' relationship with net neutrality". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 25 June 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
- Hilary Heuler. "Who really wins from Facebook's 'free internet' plan for Africa?". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- Leo Mirani (9 February 2015). "Millions of Facebook users have no idea they're using the internet". Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- Koebler, Jason (27 March 2016). "Wikipedia's Piracy Police Are Ruining the Developing World's Internet Experience". Motherboard. Vice Media. Archived from the original on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.