Google and 8ta todayÂ announced Free Zone powered by Google at G-South Africa in Cape Town that gives people access toÂ mobile web search and feature-phone-friendly versions of Gmail andÂ Google+ for free.
The new service will be trialled until 31 May 2013.
The service is aimed at first timeÂ Internet users who find basicÂ services like email and web browsing to be very expensive. Using Free Zone, feature phone users can use theÂ web without the possibility of unknown data costs.
Luke Mckend, Country Manager, Google South Africa, said: â€œGiven thatÂ data can be expensive for many South Africans, the open web is only asÂ 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 aÂ phone. This gives people easier access to information in a way thatÂ benefits everyone, whether itâ€™s an individual or a small business thatÂ wants to reach more people on the web.â€
Amith Maharaj, 8ta Senior Managing Executive, stated that “Breaking downÂ the barriers to Internet adoption is critical for South Africa to keepÂ up with the rest of world in terms of social and economic development.Â It is through key initiatives like these that these barriers can beÂ reduced. To enable such benefits for our consumers requires flexibleÂ and cutting edge technology and billing systems.”
The following services are available for free from mobile phoneÂ browsers through Free Zone powered by Google:
Gmail: Users have unlimited access to Gmail from their mobile browser.Â If users click on a link or attachment within the email they areÂ directed to a page where they can purchase a data package.
Google+: Users can share photos and messages with circles of family,Â selected friends or the public; follow updates on the things they areÂ passionate about – from football to photography, music to news; andÂ follow people theyâ€™re interested in.
Google Search: Users can search the entire Internet and access theÂ first page of websites from the results for free. If they clickÂ further into a website after that, they are directed to a page whereÂ they can purchase a data package.
When users leave the Free Zone to navigateÂ deeper into a website or download an attachment they are informedÂ about the data charges and given the option to purchase an appropriateÂ data package.
The service is now available to all 8ta subscribers from their data-enabled mobile phones. Users without a Gmail accountÂ can sign up for free.
8ta also recently launched it’s unlimited voice calls All-NetÂ promotion.Â