Mobile partnerships

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The questions and answers below are intended to address questions regarding mobile partnerships. In order to keep the discussion from becoming fragmented, please ask any questions on the talk page for the recommendations.

Mobile Partnerships General

Q: Why is Wikimedia partnering with mobile operators?

A: The short answer is to make free knowledge more accessible. One of our major goals is to reach 1 billion people by 2015 (in November 2011, we reached 470 million). As mobile phone connections begin to outnumber PC connections in much of the world, it is expected that a large number of the next 500 million users will come from mobile. In order to introduce new readers, and contributors, to Wikipedia via mobile devices we need to do two things: 1) Help them discover it and 2) Reduce barriers to accessing it. Every mobile partnership will be designed to address one or both of these objectives.

Q: What is the main program? What is Wikipedia Zero?

A: Our primary mobile partnership program for 2012 is to work with mobile operators to allow their customers to access Wikipedia without incurring data charges. The program is called Wikipedia Zero (see the project page), the "zero" part meaning "zero" cost to the user. This takes two forms currently: one is a partner's customers are given free access to a lightweight version of Wikipedia with its own url. Second, some partners we are working with will also be giving access to the mobile version of Wikipedia as it is (not just the lightweight version) without data charges.

Q: Is it the same as other zero projects? Are you partnering with Facebook Zero?

A: This is not a partnership with Facebook or any other similarly branded zero program. They are the same in that they allow users (primarily in developing countries) access to the sites without paying data charges. Our initiative was inspired by the concept of Facebook Zero, but this is not a program between WMF and Facebook or any other web or mobile sites.

Q: Why would any mobile carrier give free access to one service and not another?

A: We can't speak on behalf of mobile carriers or other services, but a principal reason for giving Wikipedia for free is that it is a public good and not monetized.

Q: Are partners paying WMF to be able to deliver these types of programs? Is WMF paying partners?

A: No. The partnerships do not produce revenue for WMF, and WMF is not paying partners.

Q: What exactly does WMF get from carriers for these kinds of partnerships?

A: The only goal of these partnerships is to advance the free knowledge mission. They make it easier for people to discover Wikipedia, and reduce barriers to accessing it.

Q: What does the partner get? Why would they do it?

A: There is a marketing benefit for them. Customers are more likely to buy from and be more loyal to an operator that supports the mission, and even more so if that operator provides Wikipedia without data charges. Additionally, in the case of Wikipedia Zero, it helps introduce people to the usefulness of the mobile internet, which means more customers for operators in the long-term.

Q: Are you making 'exclusive' deals to partners for specific territories?

A: No. We will not do any exclusive deals.

Q: Would you do any partnerships that don't involve free Wikipedia?

A: Wikipedia Zero is the priority for all partnerships, but is not the only way we partner. Some partners may, for example, incorporate Wikipedia RSS feeds into their portal or offer a Wikipedia app in their app store. This helps achieve the discovery and accessibility objectives.

Q: What parts of the world are you working with?

A: The focus for mobile partnerships is the Global South. We are focusing right now on Asia, Middle East, and Africa. After getting programs in those regions up and running, we will look next on Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Q: Do you think there are people in the 'Global North' that could also benefit from free Wikipedia?

A: Definitely. We need to prioritize though on places where impact will be greatest, which means countries in which the barriers to access (data cost relative to income) are greatest and where the gap between mobile penetration and desktop penetration is higher.

Q: Are the partners hosting Wikipedia on their own servers and re-offering it for free to customers?

A: No. Nothing is changed about the way Wikipedia is hosted.

Q: How is WMF making these programs possible? What is the technical overhead? How much does it cost?

A: Implementing Wikipedia Zero in many countries around the world requires a variety of work, including marketing, legal, communications, technical development, and support. Mobile is one of our two primary strategic priorities and is funded by the core WMF program budget as it gives access to Wikipedia to people that normally couldn't afford to use it on their mobile devices.

Q: These kinds of deals are great if you have a mobile phone that can render data, but what is WMF doing to increase reach for people without those types of phones?

A: This is also a priority, and we are working on developing SMS and USSD services in which a user can search Wikipedia and read articles without a data-enabled phone. Unlike Wikipedia Zero, which utilizes the existing mobile site, these programs require additional infrastructure. For that reason, we anticipate being able to roll out those services to partners in the second half of 2012.

Q: Why isn't editing included in these kinds of systems? Obviously we could be getting new users to edit and read from their mobile devices.

A: The ability to edit Wikipedia from a mobile device is in WMF's product roadmap. One of the main goals of WMF's engineering department in 2011 was to integrate mobile access into the core MediaWiki platform, as an extension. Since that is complete, it will enable users to contribute to Wikipedia on mobile devices. We will be testing new mobile contribution features by mid-2012, an initiative that is currently independent of our mobile operator partnerships.

Q: What role do community members have in these partnerships?

A: Community plays a vital role in helping us discover the opportunities to expand mobile reach and how to improve the experience for contributors and readers.

Orange Partnership

Please read the press release announcing this partnership.

Q&A about the partnership

Q: What's the primary purpose of this relationship with Orange?

A: The purpose is to make it possible for more people to access Wikipedia on their phone. Orange is removing price (i.e. cost of data) as a barrier, which supports that mission.

Q: How big is Orange's presence in Africa and the Middle East?

A: As of September 2011, Orange had 70.4 million customers in the Middle East and Africa (hereafter, "MEA") across 20 countries.

Q: How many countries will this involve? Which ones?

A: All 20 of Orange's operations in MEA. The countries are Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Jordan, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritius Island, Morocco, Niger, Tunisia, Uganda, Senegal and Congo. Vanuatu (though not in MEA) is also included in the partnership.

Q: Is this Wikipedia Zero?

A: This is part of the Wikipedia Zero program at WMF in that it provides access without data charges. However, the operators may not necessarily adopt the Wikipedia Zero name within their communications and marketing.

Q: Why Orange and not other mobile operators?

A: We will be working with more mobile operators across the world to provide Wikipedia for free. Orange is just the first.

Q: Is there money involved?

A: No. There is no money involved with this partnership. Orange is not paying Wikimedia Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation is not paying Orange.

Q: Is this different from the previous partnership with Orange?

A: Yes, this is a new partnership. It is focused only on MEA and and on providing access to Wikipedia without data charges. You can also read the FAQ about the previous partnership.

Q: Is this an exclusive deal?

A: No. As mentioned above, we do not do exclusive deals with any operator.

Q: What is the duration of this deal?

A: Through November 2014.

Q: Will these operators be putting Wikipedia in their advertising?

A: Many of them will put out various communication materials (ranging from leaflets to billboards) about the program in order to promote it and encourage usage. Anytime the Wikipedia logo is used, WMF will have to give approval to ensure that the use is in line with the mission.

Q: It seems like Wikimedia has only really signed with two partners on any mobile front, and one of those is Orange. Where are the other providers? What's the delay?

A: We are working on plans with several other partners right now, and will be announcing each one as they are confirmed. The process can take time as partners have to get internal support and approval to run these programs. Additionally, we need to gradually roll out partners so that we are able to test, debug, and evaluate programs to minimize errors.

Q&A about the offer

Q: When will the offer be available in each country?"

A: Countries will be rolled out gradually throughout this year. We do not know dates yet.

Q: Can someone with an Orange phone who doesn't have money in their account access the free content?

A: Customers need to have Orange credit available on their Orange SIM cards to take part in this offer but they will not be charged for using it.

Q: Is every Orange customer within the country eligible?

A: Each country will establish their own parameters. In some cases, certain plans will not be included. These will be case-by-case with each operator, and any exceptions should be very few.

Q: Are there usage caps?

A: There are no caps to free access. Users can read as many articles as they want without incurring data charges. To ensure fair usage and prevent abuse, each country may impose a soft cap after which a user's connection may be slower. The threshold for this soft cap will vary, but it should be around the equivalent of 100 page views in a month. The average usage of Wikipedia on mobile devices, from December 2011 statistics, is 26 page views per reader per month.

Q: What language versions of Wikipedia are included?

A: All languages are included in the master agreement, though, of course, the user's phone must be capable of rendering that language. In some countries, the operator may have to limit the number of languages available for free due to billing system constraints; in these cases, we will ensure that, at a minimum, the top 5 most common languages within the country are available for free.

Q: Why can't I use this service to edit Wikipedia as well? Isn't that the whole point of getting more people involved?

A: Please see the question in "Mobile Partnerships General" regarding mobile editing. The program with Orange should improve readership accessibility and introduce many first-time readers to Wikipedia in MEA. This paves the way for more participation.

Q: Does the offer include other Wikimedia projects? If not, why?

A: For the moment, most mobile operators would only like to start off with offering Wikipedia through this program. Orange, however, will be offering access to Commons via Wikipedia as well.

Telenor Partnership

Please read the press release announcing this partnership.

Q: What's the primary purpose of the partnership?

A: Our mobile partnership strategy is to make it possible for more people to access free knowledge by reducing barriers to accessing Wikipedia on phones. Telenor is removing cost (i.e. data fees) as a barrier to access for its customers. The partnership will bring this benefit to new countries in Asia and Eastern Europe.

Q: Which countries are included?

A: To begin with, it will include Telenor's subsidiaries in Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Serbia, Montenegro, and India at a later date. Additional Telenor subsidiaries may also be added before the end of the year.

Q: How many people will this effect?

A: Telenor's customer base in these countries is 135 million as of December 2011.

Q: Will all users in these countries be able to access Wikipedia for free?

A: We are working through implementation details with each country. Each of these countries will offer a version of Wikipedia for free. "Version" means either Wikipedia on mobile web or Wikipedia via SMS and USSD. Most countries will be waiving data charges as part of the Wikipedia Zero program; in most cases, this will be to the lightweight, text-only site. For countries in which data fees are not waived, there will be free usage of Wikipedia via SMS and USSD, services we are currently developing

Q: Which countries will be offering what version?

A: We are working through this on a case-by-case basis. We know for now that Malaysia (Digi), Thailand (DTAC), Bangladesh (Grameenphone), Montenegro, and Serbia will be giving free mobile web access ("Wikipedia Zero") through Opera Mini. It is still to be determined which of these will be to the full Wikipedia mobile site or to the lightweight, text-only site. Countries that offer Wikipedia free by SMS and USSD will be named later. Once we know the details of what will be offered in each country, we will announce them.

Q: When will this launch?

A: We're working with Telenor on the rollout plan, but we plan to launch with Malaysia (Digi) first. For their customers, it will be no data charges to access the text-only version of Wikipedia Zero (all language versions) through the Opera Mini browser.

Q: How long will this last?

A: We've arranged a 3-year agreement with Telenor, and the free services will be available for at least 1 year from when they launch.

Q: Is there money involved?

A: No. Telenor is not paying Wikimedia Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation is not paying Telenor.

Q: Is this an exclusive deal?

A: No. We still don't do any exclusive deals.

Where is Wikipedia Free to Access

Country Operator Free as of Which version is free? Which languages are free? Any other restrictions?
Uganda Orange Apr 4, 2012 m.wikipedia only en, fr, ko, de, zh, sw, rw, ar, hi, es None
Tunisia Orange Apr 24, 2012 m.wikipedia only ar, en, fr, es, de, it, ru, jp, zh None
Malaysia Digi May 21, 2012 zero.wikipedia only All languages Opera Mini browser only
Niger Orange July 2, 2012 m.wikipedia only All languages None

Note on version: Partners will either offer free access to (mobile version), (mobile text-only version), or both.