Reuters is profiling a new service that Google just launched this morning aimed at providing Internet access (and advertisements, of course) to millions across the developing world. Known as “Free Zone”, Google will initially launch the service with local carriers in the Philippines. Reuters explained the service would essentially provide free access to Google services, such as Gmail, search, and Google+, entirely for free. However, users attempting to pull in data outside those services will be prompted to buy data from the local carrier partner:
Users could access websites that show up in Google’s search results for free, but any website outside those results would prompt an invitation to subscribe to the mobile operator’s data plan… Google and Globe hope that by offering a free layer of services they will entice users of so-called feature phones to move beyond just making phone calls and sending SMS messages to sign up for Internet services.
Google Product Manager AbdelKarim Mardini had this to say about the program:
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“It’s aimed at the next billion users of the Internet, many of whom will be in emerging markets and encounter the Internet first on a mobile phone, without ever owning a PC,” AbdelKarim Mardini, product manager for Google, told Reuters.
Google has a website up for the service that also includes FAQs and links to get involved.