Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wikipedia Zero Arrives in Nepal

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In an event organized on the occasion of Education Freedom Day at Smart Samaj, I had asked a question to the community representative of Nepal for Wikimedia Foundation “Is there any chance of Nepali Telecom operators adopting Wikipedia Zero?” The answer was we have to wait for long time. 
But I got surprised and excited from this news on Republica Online today, few month after the event. Ncell which is second largest internet service provider in Nepal has finally joined hands with the Foundation and launched the ambitious project launched to reduce barriers to accessing free knowledge via world largest online encyclopedia. This is a great news for technically emerging countries like Nepal. From May 7, 2014 onwards, Ncell subscribers having smartphone can access Wikipedia contents absolutely free of cost without any activation hurdles.
But still some sad thing lies here. People having simple mobile phone running native browsers and opera mini cannot utilize this service at this time which Ncell has said because of technical difficulties but the privately owned Telesonera’s child telecom operator is providing facebook pack which can be accessed via all mobile handsets and browsers.
How to ensure free version?
To make sure that you are accessing the free version of Wikipedia from your internet browser, watch a “free access” banner the top of each page confirming freeness of the page. Surfing Wikipedia versions: m.wikipedia & zero.wikipedia are included on free access for Nepal.
Wikipedia Zero is an initiative rolled out in 2011 & launched by the non-profit organization, Wikimedia Foundation under which partnerships are made with telecom service providers from various part of the world to waive data charges for accessing Wikipedia to their mobile subscribers. Wikipedia Zero works in the same way as Facebook Zero, offering low cost for accessing certain popular websites. The service has been so far launched in more than 16 countries. With the view of expanding the free knowledge on Wikipedia, special version of wikipedia.com is launched which can be accessed through zero.wikipedia.org which is a light weight text-only version of the Wikipedia mobile site. Today’s news means that almost half-a-billion people worldwide now have access to free Wikipedia on their mobile phones.
The Foundation has estimated the benefit for the telecom service providers under the partnerships that 28% of existing readers would be more likely to buy service from the operator. The full list of telecom operators launching the program can be accessed through here.
Hope the largest and state owned telecom operator, Nepal Telecom (NT) will also join hand on this project soon.
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Written By Raju Dawadi
Raju is a Computer Engineering student in Nepal, tech and social media enthusiast, web developer, blogger experimenting with SEO and web analytics.

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