Google Free Zone Offers Mobile Search, Gmail and Google+ with No Data Charges

Data traffic to these sites is free in the Philippines

By Lucian Parfeni on October 26th, 2012 12:18 GMT

One way of getting more people to use your sites is to first get them to use the internet. That may sound ridiculous, but in many parts of the world, internet access is not taken for granted. In fact, PCs aren't even taken for granted.

Most people do have a phone though and in most parts of the world they can get mobile internet, even if it's excruciatingly slow.

But slow or not, mobile internet access has one unifying characteristic in every country on the planet, it's expensive. So expensive that many people can't afford it.

Which is where sites that offer access for "free," i.e. for which data traffic is not charged, are very important.

Facebook has Facebook Zero which, through partnerships with carriers, ensures people can use the site, a very stripped down version, for free.

The same goes for Wikipedia, which is available for free in some countries and a few others.

Now, Google joins the fray with the Google Free Zone, a new program offering free access to Google Search, Gmail and Google+, quite a compelling package.

"Free Zone is an exciting new product that allows users to access Google+, Gmail, and Google Search on their mobile phone without incurring data charges – no data plan needed. It’s available on most internet-enabled mobile phones," Google explains.

The program is only available in the Philippines for now, but you can expect Google to expand it to other developing countries. It's designed for feature phones, but it will work on smartphones, it's just that the sites will look a bit weird or out of place. 

"You can access Free Zone using any default phone browser. You'll need to sign in with your Google Account in order to use Google Search, Google+, and Gmail through Free Zone," Google writes.
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