On Friday 16 February 2018 the Wikimedia Foundation announced that free access to Wikipedia will end in 2018, which was part of the Wikipedia Zero partnership programme.
In a statement on its website the foundation said, “After careful evaluation, the Wikimedia Foundation has decided to discontinue one of its partnership approaches, the Wikipedia Zero program. Wikipedia Zero was created in 2012 to address one barrier to participating in Wikipedia globally: high mobile data costs. Through the program, we partnered with mobile operators to waive mobile data fees for their customers to freely access Wikipedia on mobile devices. Over the course of this year, no additional Wikipedia Zero partnerships will be formed, and the remaining partnerships with mobile operators will expire.”
The programme in its six years partnered with 97 mobile carriers in 72 countries to provide access to Wikipedia to more than 800 million people free of mobile data charges.
The company revealed that since 2016, it saw a significant drop off in adoption and interest in the program. The company believes that this is due, in part, to the rapidly shifting mobile industry, as well as changes in mobile data costs.