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Google experimenting with free mobile access to its web services in developing markets

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Google is testing out a new way to bring its services to mobile users free of charge. Dubbed Google Free Zone, the service will facilitate the use of Gmail, Google+, and Google Search via a special domain, g.co/freezone. Once they've signed up to a Google account, users will be able to visit any links found in search free of charge, although clicking through to another page will result in data fees (provided the user accepts the charge via a pop-up warning). Google recently launched the service in the Philippines in partnership with local carrier Globe, and it seems likely that it will launch in other territories soon.

Facebook runs a similar service, 0.facebook.com, which gives users free access to Facebook, but the scope of Google's efforts is much larger. Google tells Reuters that Free Zone is aimed at "the next billion users of the internet, many of whom will be in emerging markets and encounter the internet first on a mobile phone, without ever owning a PC." The battle for the next billion seems to be heating up.

Thanks, Stefan!

The Verge
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