Wikipedia has announced the Wikipedia Zero program will end this year, effectively ending zero-cost data access to its service. Well, for the time being at least.
Wikipedia Zero was launched back in 2012 in order to enable users in regions with high data costs to access the service for free. Essentially it was a partnership between Wikipedia and mobile carrier providers, in which the latter waived costs for access to Wikipedia on mobile devices.
In a blog post, Wikipedia has announced that it will form no new carrier partnerships and will also allow existing alliances to expire. Apparently since 2016 Wikipedia has seen a significant drop in interest for the program and participation was needed to keep it alive.
The company cites a couple of reasons for this and one of them isn’t all that bad: falling data costs. As access to data has become more affordable, more users can access the service without needing to be exempt from costs. However, Wikipedia says that lack of awareness of its service is also a factor; users outside North America and Europe are far less aware of its service, although Wikipedia did point to a couple of nations – Iraq and Nigeria among them – where awareness was raised significantly.
Although Wikipedia Zero is shutting down, the outlet says it will be exploring new ways to make its service available to as many people as possible.
“To create all the world’s knowledge, we need participation from the world. However, we know that there are many barriers to making this vision a reality, data affordability being just one,” the blog post reads.
“We look forward to continuing to explore, evaluate, and measure the impact of our partnership opportunities and more as we build for the future of Wikimedia.”