This 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.
"The Wikimedia Foundation is working to remove barriers to free knowledge, and for most people around the world right now, cost and accessibility are the two biggest hurdles," says Barry Newstead, Wikimedia Chief Global Development Officer. "We applaud Telenor for joining us to deliver free access to Wikipedia for their customers. Through this partnership, we move a step closer to providing the sum of all knowledge to everyone in the world."
This partnership supports Telenor's commitment to bring more value to its mobile customers. Especially, the company has pioneered the development of value-adding services to rural and underserved communities in Asia. Telenor involve millions in Asia through the I-Genius project, which has already reached out to 300,000 Bangladeshi students and school-children with a call to explore open knowledge on the internet.
"We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Wikimedia Foundation. Telenor have pioneered affordable, mobile communications across much of Asia, and we have built a track record of offering vital services with a significant outreach" says Kristin Skogen Lund, Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Services at Telenor Group. "With this agreement, we are first in Asia to bring a vast knowledge source to the millions in underserved communities across the region."
The 3-year partnership between Telenor Group and the Wikimedia Foundation will cover 135 million users. The agreement is signed by seven countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Montenegro, and Serbia. By the end of the year, more markets are expected to join. The agreement will be implemented step by step throughout 2012, with the first markets launching during the second quarter.
Each local Telenor affiliate will establish technical solutions together with the Wikimedia Foundation. Customers with a Telenor SIM will be able to access a version of the encyclopedia for as many times as they like in a given period, at no charge, as long as they stay within Wikipedia's pages.
Telenor Group is an international provider of telecom, data and media communication services. Telenor Group has mobile operations in 11 markets in the Nordic region, Central and Eastern Europe and in Asia. The company also has an ownership stake of 36.4 percent in VimpelCom Ltd., operating in 19 markets. Headquartered in Norway, Telenor Group is one of the world's major mobile operators with 140 million mobile subscriptions in its consolidated operations per Q4 2011, revenues in 2011 of NOK 99 billion, and a workforce of approximately 30,000.
About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 482 million unique visitors per month, making them the fifth-most popular web property world-wide (comScore, January 2012). Available in 282 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 20 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of more than 100,000 people. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants.
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