Airtel mobile customers will now be able access web search and feature-phone-friendly versions of Gmail and Google+ in India without paying for data services.

The first page of a Web site linked from search results will be provided at no data cost.

The scheme, called Free Zone, aims to put the web in the hands of more people and empower first time Internet users with several useful services of the Internet. Airtel mobile customers can access the service by visiting www.airtel.in/freezone and simply start using the Internet without having to sign in to the service. Any user can create a Gmail account instantly on the Free Zone homepage and enjoy a multitude of connectivity and social media services from Google.

Rajan Anandan, V-P and Managing Director, Google India, said, “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."

“In this market, where feature phones predominate, our association with Google to bring Free Zone 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,” said N. Rajaram, Chief Marketing Officer – Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel.

While Airtel subscribers will not incur any data charges to access these services on Free Zone, access to more advanced services such as Attachment Download or browse through to web sites from the ones accessed in the Free Zone would be enabled through the subscription to a standard data package.

Airtel mobile customers will be able to access the following services from mobile phone browsers:

Gmail: Users have unlimited access to Gmail from their mobile browser. If users click on a link or attachment within the email they are directed to a page where they can purchase a data package.

Google+: Users can share online photos and messages with circles of family, selected friends or the public; follow updates on the things they are passionate about - from cricket to photography, music to news; and follow people they’re interested in.

Google Search: Users can search the entire Internet and access the first page of web sites from the results for free. If they click further into a Web site after that, they are directed to a page where they can purchase a data package.

When users 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.

(This article was published on June 26, 2013)
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