Press releases/WMF and STC partner on WP Zero in the Middle East

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The Wikimedia Foundation and Saudi Telecom (STC) partner to provide access to Wikipedia free of mobile data charges in the Middle East

Service available immediately to STC customers in Saudi Arabia

San Francisco, California and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -- October 14, 2012 -- Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and the Wikimedia Foundation announced a new partnership today to offer Wikipedia free of data charges on mobile devices to STC customers in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. By making Wikipedia available to its 25 million mobile customers, STC and the Wikimedia Foundation commit to increasing access to the free and open knowledge available on Wikipedia. Wikipedia Zero enables customers to browse the website for free and with high flexibility on all mobile phones.

This partnership is part of the Wikimedia Foundation's mobile strategy, which focuses on reaching billions of people around the world whose primary opportunity to access the Internet is via a mobile device. This initiative is particularly important, given that the Foundation has made Arabic language countries a special priority in its strategic planning.

“We are thrilled that STC has joined us in removing a major barrier to accessing Wikipedia on mobile phones. Improving access to the Wikimedia projects in the Arabic speaking world is a strategic priority for the Foundation, and this partnership is a step forward in our mission to enable everyone on the planet to access free knowledge,” said Kul Takanao Wadhwa, Head of Mobile, Wikimedia Foundation. “With Wikipedia Zero, the Wikimedia Foundation is able to provide free Wikipedia access to almost 230 million mobile users around the world. We’re very excited that STC is joining us in this mission.”

In collaboration with “Intigral," a company that specializes in providing digital media solutions to telecom operators, STC subscribers can now access the free service in both Arabic and English by pointing their mobile browser to m.wikipedia.org. A lightweight, text-only version optimized for slower connections is also available at zero.wikipedia.org. The move comes as STC continues to consolidate its leadership in various fields, especially in social awareness and the fostering of a knowledge-sharing culture. Wikipedia Zero will also be available through the mobile browser, and features high browsing speeds despite being a free service.

Eng. Ibrahim Al Omar, Vice President for Personal Services, said “One of the principles that STC adheres to is the commitment to spreading social awareness and the fostering of a knowledge-sharing culture that accomplishes the aspirations of all segments of our customer-base.” He then added, “Wikipedia Zero is considered an additional cornerstone that supports the continuous efforts of STC in the field of social awareness.”

The launch of Wikipedia Zero comes in line with STC’s strategy to prioritize customer needs, and is an affirmation of the company’s commitment to fulfilling customer expectations while meeting their demands, and to continuously develop its services to satisfy their aspirations and give them a variety of unrestricted options and alternatives.

For more information, read the STC Partnership Q&A here.

About Saudi Telecom

http://www.stc.com.sa

Saudi Telecom Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides telecommunications services to individuals and businesses primarily in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its GSM segment primarily offers mobile, prepaid cards, international roaming, and messaging services. The company’s Landline segment principally provides fixed line, card telephones, interconnect, and international call services. Its DATA segment primarily offers leased data transmission circuits, DSL, and Internet services. The company also engages in the operation of communications projects; transmission and processing of information; wholesale and retail trade of recharge card services, telecommunication equipment and devices, and computer services; sale and re-sale of various landlines and mobiles telecommunication services; and maintenance and operation of commercial centers. In addition, it provides mobile services, international telecommunications, broad band, and other related services in Bahrain; and operates third generation mobile network in Indonesia. The company was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

About Wikimedia Foundation

http://wikimediafoundation.org
http://blog.wikimedia.org

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 456 million unique visitors per month, making them the fifth-most popular web property world-wide (comScore, August 2012). Available in 285 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 22 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of roughly 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.

Press contact
For the Wikimedia Foundation
Jay Walsh
Head of Communications
Wikimedia Foundation
Tel. +1 415-860-8166
jwalsh(at)wikimedia.org
For STC
Aballah Bou Kassem
Tel. +966558850040
aboukassem(at)groupseven-me.com