Wikipedia zero has started rolling out in India! Which means access to Wikipedia from mobile will be free. For starters, free access to Wikipedia is only for Aircel. The free mobile data access initiative for Wikipedia, called Wikipedia Zero was first rolled out in late 2011. [source]
In April, the program had around 517 Mn mobile subscribers. The service has so far been launched in more than 16 countries in partnership with various mobile operators.
Aircel has 60 million mobile users according to the report. Subscribers with Internet enabled facility in their phones, will have free access to Wikipedia through its mobile website m.wikipedia.org. Alternatively, users can also access a text-only version of the mobile site zero.wikipedia.org which is optimized for slower connections. But as stated on the mobile partnerships page of the Wikimedia foundation, this is not an exclusive deal and hence it is possible that Wikipedia may partner with other telcos to increase its reach.
In January, Wikipedia reported that it generated 14.5% of its traffic from the mobile website in terms of pageviews, that means around 3 billion mobile page views. Now with India under the program will add to substantial growth in the numbers.
How to access Wikipedia in languages other than English?
Users can access Wikipedia pages in 19 Indian languages along with English. One has to type the two letter language code just before the web address of mobile website for reading the non English version. For example in the URL “XX.m.wikipedia.org” XX represents the language code. Globally, Hindi Wikipedia has 22.1% of page views from the mobile in comparison to 17.3% for all other languages, surely this launch in India will add to the figures.
Partnering carriers under this program will gain marketing benefits and PR being associated with a non profit organization. Also a new set of customers will be developed who will be keen to use partnering operators service for getting the free access to knowledge.