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cell phone SMS

Wikipedia Articles via SMS in Africa

Oct. 25, 2013

by Joel Elowsky

Wikipedia recently began formatting its articles to be sent as text messages that can be received via cell phone. The new technololgy has the possibility of reaching places where internet access is still in development but cell phone technology and capacity is already in place--such as in Africa. Its partnership with a local cell phone carrier, Airtel, has promise. The difficulty with many phones in the developing world is that they are not "data-enabled". As Dan Foy, the technical partner manager for Wikimedia puts it, "Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule," he wrote.

"That means billions of people currently cannot see Wikipedia on their phones."

To activate the service - called Wikipedia Zero - users need to dial *515#, after which they will receive a text message prompting them to search for articles.

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