MTN provides free Wikipedia access


Late last year, learners from Sinenjongo High School in South Africa urged the country’s mobile operators to allow students to access online encyclopaedia Wikipedia for free through their mobile devices.

MTN is providing free Wikipedia access to its subscribers (image: Open Buildings)

While no mobile operator heeded the call, South African operator MTN took the initiative to heart – and announced today that Wikipedia will be made available for free to MTN subscribers. Currently only FNB Connect has free Wikipedia access.

The students of Sinenjongo High School posted a video on YouTube where they urged mobile operators to provide free access, and in response, MTN posted a similar video to make their announcement. The mobile operators also received a #NekNomination from Five Roses tea regarding the matter.

NekNomination has become a viral sensation where users upload YouTube videos of themselves doing various activities, and nominating two of their friends to out-do them.

“You recently shared a video asking South African cellular networks to give their customers free access to WikipediaWe know that many school children in the country don’t have access to free research material, which can make excelling at school so much more difficult. That’s why MTN is proud to be the first South African cellular network to make Wikipedia free,” MTN said in a statement.

The mobile operator also thanked the students for their initiative. “Free Wikipedia means access to a wealth of knowledge on just about every topic, giving a boost not only to school children, but to the whole education system of South Africa.  We hope that by changing one small thing, we can change everything. To the learners at Sinenjongo High School who sparked this initiative… Thank you!”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor