Wikipedia Coming to Cell Phones in Africa, Middle East–for FREE!

Alachia Does Droid 2By mid-2012 millions of people in Africa and the Middle East will be able to access free, unlimited use of Wikipedia on their smart phones.  Mobile network provider Orange and the Wikimedia Foundation will allow Orange’s 70 million customers in the region to read and download information on Wikipedia without the usual data charges.

This sounds awesome to us.  But, the project faces some big hurdles.  Experts say only seven to 15% of Orange’s customers in Africa and the Middle East own a smart phone that connects to the internet.  They say the cost of the phones is a barrier to the region’s poorest.  There are also concerns about the network provider’s ability to handle a major increase in internet traffic as customers try to use Wikipedia.

The project will begin in eight countries by mid-2012.  By December, leaders say that number will grow to 20 countries.  More mobile network operators are expected to do the same thing in the following months.

We’re hoping this encourages more people in Africa and the Middle East to read, and download information from the internet.

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Written by Travis Thompson