Wikipedia ends zero-cost mobile version in developing countries

WikipediaThe Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit and charitable organisation behind Wikipedia, has decided to discontinue its Wikipedia Zero program, which enabled people in developing countries to access the online encyclopaedia on mobile without using data.

The program, created in 2012, saw Wikimedia partner with mobile operators to remove data fees for their customers while they were accessing the knowledge base. Over the last six years, Wikimedia has partnered with 97 mobile carriers in 72 countries, providing data free access to more than 800m people.

According to the Foundation, however, it has seen a drop off in adoption and interest in the program since 2016, as the mobile industry changes and mobile data costs fall. In addition, low interest in Wikipedia in developing countries is also down to a lack of awareness about the site outside of North America and Europe.

As a result, Wikimedia will be forming no additional partnerships this year, while letting its current partnership deals run through to their expiry. Despite this, Wikimedia says it will use what it’s learnt from the program to help with future partnerships in other areas.