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Google, Airtel jointly launch FreeZone in India

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | June 27, 2013
Airtel mobile customers will be able to access popular Google services on their mobile phones for no data cost.

Bharti Airtel and Google have partnered to launch FreeZone, which will give Airtel mobile customers access to mobile web search and feature-phone-friendly versions of Gmail and Google+ in India.

FreeZone

Airtel mobile customers can access the service by visiting www.airtel.in/freezone and simply start using the internet without having to sign into the service. Any user can create a Gmail account instantly on the FreeZone homepage and enjoy a multitude of connectivity and social media services from Google.

According to the companies, FreeZone aims to put the web in the hands of more people and empower first time internet users with several services of Google. Through this campaign, Airtel mobile customers will be offered unlimited access to Gmail from their mobile browser, Google+ and Google Search, where users can search the entire internet and access the first page of websites from the results for free. If they click further into a website after that, they will be directed to a page where they can purchase a data package.

Airtel subscribers will not incur any data charges to access these services on FreeZone powered by Google. Access to more advanced services such as attachment download will be enabled through subscription of a standard data package. When users leave FreeZone 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.

Rajan Anandan

N Rajaram

Speaking about the partnership, Rajan Anandan, VP and managing director, Google India, says "The mobile internet user base is growing really fast in India. Working with Airtel on this exciting trial means that we can offer internet services at no cost to anyone with a phone. This gives people easier access to information in a way that benefits everyone, whether it's an individual or a small business that wants to reach more people on the web. We hope this initiative will encourage more Indians to experience the value of the internet and gain from it. Students can easily look up for facts to work on their assignments, housewives will be able to easily check on recipes and connect with their friends and family from their mobile phones."

N Rajaram, chief marketing officer, consumer business, Bharti Airtel, states, "As the country's leading telecom services provider, we at Airtel are constantly looking for new ways of exciting more and more of our 200 million plus customers in India about the data experience. In this market, where feature phones predominate, our association with Google to bring FreeZone to India will encourage millions of users to discover the power of mobile internet for the very first time and leverage the amazing world of information search, email and social collaboration - at no incremental cost."

Bharti Airtel currently operates in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, has over 275 million customers across its operations and is a market leader in India with more than 189 mobile customers at the end of May, 2013.

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