Friday, November 8, 2013

Myanmar mobile users to get free access to Wikipedia

Myanmar given free access to the world's knowledge with Wikipedia Zero

(Fornebu, Norway, and San Francisco, California -  7 November 2013) -- Telenor Group and the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, today announced Myanmar as the latest country to be included in their existing agreement to bring Wikipedia Zero to Telenor customers in Asia and Europe. Telenor is supporting the country's ambition of connecting its 60 million people. Through this agreement, Telenor's future subscribers in Myanmar will be able to access Wikipedia's vast knowledge base free of mobile data traffic charges when Telenor begins services in the country.

"The Wikimedia Foundation imagines a world in which every single person has free access to the sum of human knowledge. By working with Telenor, we are able to put this knowledge in the hands of the masses, helping to close the knowledge gap between developed and developing countries. Today's announcement will pave the way for Telenor to offer all the knowledge that comes with Wikipedia Zero to its customers in Myanmar," said Carolynne Schloeder, Director of Mobile Programs at the Wikimedia Foundation.

The partnership between Telenor and the Wikimedia Foundation was established in February 2012, and was founded on a shared commitment to bring Wikipedia to Telenor customers free of data charges. The initiative is part of the Wikimedia Foundation's mobile strategy, which focuses on reaching the billions of people around the world whose primary opportunity to access the Internet is via a mobile device. Following the agreement, special versions of Wikipedia for mobile phones were launched in Thailand, Malaysia and Montenegro. In addition, Telenor aims to launch Wikipedia Zero in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Serbia in 2014.

"Access to high quality telecommunications tools and affordable services plays a substantial role in developing societies. To Telenor, this partnership enables us to provide a strong support to local communities by promoting the exchange and sharing of open knowledge. Offering Wikipedia free of traffic charges also helps introduce internet to mobile users, often for the first time. I am satisfied that our cooperation with the Wikimedia Foundation will now include Myanmar," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO of Telenor Group.

On 27 June 2013 Telenor was announced as one of the successful applicants for a telecommunications license in Myanmar. Following the process described in the auction guidelines, the company is now in discussions with the Myanmar authorities regarding the final terms and conditions of the license agreement. Telenor aims to launch services in Myanmar within eight months after the final license agreement is signed.

The extension of this partnership was celebrated today in Oslo when Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, met with Jon Fredrik Baksaas and Rolv-Erik Spilling, Head of Telenor Digital to participate in an event announcing the expansion of service. Mr. Jimmy Wales was also a keynote speaker at the "Digital Winners" conference hosted today by Telenor Digital at Telenor Headquarters, where he shared his views on crowdsourcing for the common good.

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