BY HENRY IFEANYI, 17 DECEMBER 2013
Lagos — AIRTEL Nigeria, the leading telecommunication company, announced a partnership with search engine giant, Google, to provide free internet search service for its subscribers.
The service, called Free Zone, will allows customers to access mobile web search and other feature-phone-friendly versions of Gmail and Google+ without getting billed.
According to Airtel, the first page of any website linked from the search results would also provided at no charges.
The company said that Free Zone aimed to make the internet accessible to more people.
Speaking on the new service, Deepak Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of Airtel Nigeria said that breaking down the barriers to internet adoption was critical for Nigeria to keep up with the rest of world in terms of social and economic development.
“It is through key initiatives like these that these barriers can be reduced. We are, therefore, really proud to bring this spectacular innovation to Nigerians especially our customers who will now have seamless access to Google Search, Gmail and Google+ by simply using Airtel SIM card on any data enabled handset free of charge. This is indeed another good reason to remain an Airtel customer or to joint Airtel if you are not yet a customer,” he said.
Juliet Ehimuan, Country Manager of Google Nigeria, said that Google was proud to be bring the Free Zone service to Airtel subscribers.
“We are excited to be working with Airtel to introduce Free Zone powered by Google to Nigeria. We believe in the power of the Internet to create better opportunities, and working with Airtel on this makes it possible for anyone with a phone to get Internet services at little or no cost.
"Just like our other access projects, this gives people easier access to information in a way that benefits not just themselves, but their businesses, and by extension Nigeria's economy,” she said.
Airtel customers who access Free Zone would enjoy unlimited access to Gmail; share photos and messages with circles of family, friends and associates as well as follow updates on the things they are passionate about - from football to photography, music to news and follow people they are interested in via Google+.
Also, customers would be able to search the entire Internet and access the first page of websites from the results for free using Google Search.
When Airtel customers leave the Free Zone to navigate deeper into a website or download an attachment they are informed about the data charges and given the option to purchase an appropriate data package.