Google offers free Internet to S.African mobile users

Nov 14, 2012
Customers take a subscription in a cell phone shop in Johannesburg. Google said on Wednesday it has entered into a deal with South Africa's giant telecoms operator Telkom to offer free Internet access to mobile phone subscribers that cannot afford data costs.

Google said on Wednesday it has entered into a deal with South Africa's giant telecoms operator Telkom to offer free Internet access to mobile phone subscribers that cannot afford data costs.

Under the deal dubbed "Free Zone," subscribers to Telkom's 8ta can access the web and versions of and + without paying for data charges, as long as they have data-enabled handsets.

"Around 80 percent of South Africans have a cell phone, and much of this mobile resource is untapped due to data charges that many cannot afford," Google South Africa manager Luke Mckend told AFP.

Many find data charges for email, web browsing and social applications, to be too expensive.

"Our goal is to make more of the affordable for everyone, in order to enrich their lives with information at their fingertips," said Mckend.

Google launched a similar deal with a mobile phone provider in the Philippines earlier this month.

Amith Maharaj, senior managing executive at 8ta, said the idea is to help South Africa, the wealthiest country on the continent, keep pace with the rest of the developed world.

"Breaking down the barriers to Internet adoption is critical for South Africa to keep up with the rest of the world in terms of socio-economic development," he said, citing World Bank studies that a 10 percent rise in Internet use could result in one percent increase in GDP.

"Now 8ta subscribers can enjoy a free value added service to explore the Internet, check emails and connect with friends, ultimately boosting internet adoption in South Africa."

The deal is on trial until the end of May next year.

8ta is the mobile phone brand for the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Telkom, South Africa's largest fixed line phone company but struggling parastatal.

Explore further: Creating the fastest outdoor wireless Internet connection in the world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

S.Africa behind other African states in Internet access

May 29, 2012

Internet penetration in South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse, is low compared to other leading economies in Africa due to high broadband cost and a lack of infrastructure, a study said Tuesday.

Google unveils SMS service for Africa

Jun 29, 2009

Google on Monday unveiled a new service designed to provide information via SMS text message to mobile phone users in Africa, where cell phones are prevalent but Internet penetration is low.

Subsea cable to double S.Africa Internet capacity

Apr 19, 2011

A new undersea telecommunications cable has landed in South Africa, investors announced Tuesday, saying the link would double the broadband capacity of the continent's largest economy.

SAfrica's MTN launches mobile insurance program

Mar 23, 2011

(AP) -- A South African mobile phone giant has joined with an insurance company to launch a program in Ghana that will allow subscribers to pay for life insurance through their mobile phones, a company official said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

FAA, industry launch drone safety campaign

2 hours ago

Alarmed by increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft, drone industry officials said Monday they are teaming up with the government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign.

It's down to the wire for online shopping

3 hours ago

As the holiday shopping season winds down, FedEx, UPS and online retailers are using the last few days to try to avoid the problems that occurred last year when severe winter weather and a surge in late orders ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Henka
not rated yet Nov 15, 2012
yawn

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.