Google and 8ta have just teamed up to provide a unique service to South Africans: if you have an 8ta sim card, you now get access to “Free Zone” — a project that allows users to access the web for free.
A little earlier, we carried a story that detailed the now confirmed launch of the new BlackBerry devices and software. In that article, we spoke about the fact that mobile providers like Nashua Mobile are beginning to offer data packages that mimic those that BlackBerry offer.
These kind of packages will provide staunch competition for BlackBerry in a market where price for data will continue to be directly linked to device choice.
Increasingly, that landscape seems to be changing: Free Zone from Google is an African first in man ways. It now means that users can access almost all of Google’s web-based products with no data costs. Yes, no data costs.
But there are a few catches, obviously. First and foremost, the service is only available to mobile phone users.
Secondly, by restricting the service to Google-only products, users can’t just have a free-for-all web experience.
However, the positives are excellent, and provide a brilliant gateway to the Internet for many that may not have bothered because of the costs associated with mobile web browsing.
Here is the breakdown of what users can expect from the service that will be trialed until the end of May next year:
Says Google South Africa’s country manager Luke Mckend:
Given that data can be expensive for many South Africans, the open web is only as open as it is affordable. Working with 8ta on this exciting trial means that we can offer Internet services at no cost to anyone with a phone. [It] gives people easier access to information in a way that benefits everyone, whether it’s an individual or a small business that wants to reach more people on the web.
The main catch can be perceived as the notion that a user will need to pay when they want to start accessing information like email attachments, but when you had nothing before this, this is something that will benefit you.
Check out Free Zone HERE.
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