Google and 8ta have announced Free Zone, giving you free access to mobile web search and feature-phone-friendly versions of Gmail and Google+. The first page linked from Google search results will also be free of data costs.
No data bundles needed
The initiative aims to reduce costs for mobile phone users who haven’t purchased data bundles, but still want to access basic services like email, mobile web browsing and social applications.
Amith Maharaj, 8ta Senior managing executive, said; “Effectively it means that all South Africans can have access to Google Search, Google email and Google social networking by simply using any 8ta SIM card on any data-enabled handset, no matter how old, free of charge.”
Luke Mckend, country manager, Google South Africa, said; “This 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 service will be available immediately to all 8ta subscribers at freezone.google.com. Users who don’t have a gmail account can sign up for free.
When you navigate away from the free zone, or try to download an attachment you will be told about the data charges involved and given the option of buying a data package.
Four facts about Free Zone
- You need an internet-enabled cell phone
- It is optimised for non-smartphones or feature phones, but will work on a smartphone as well.
- You need a Google account.
The service will be on trial until 31 May 2013.