Telecom operator Airtel has partnered with search giant Google to launch 'Free Zone'. Powered by Google, the offering will provide Airtel mobile customers access to mobile Web search and feature phone-friendly versions of Gmail and Google+ in India. In addition, the first page of any Website linked from Google search results will be provided at no data cost.
For using the service, Airtel subscribers will have to visit airtel.in/freezone from their handsets' mobile browsers, after which they can simply start using Internet without having to sign in to the service.
The services that are offered through Free Zone include:
Google Search: Users can search Internet and access first pages 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 for opening the same.
Gmail: Users can create a Gmail account on the Free Zone homepage and they will have unlimited access to the service from their mobile browser. If users click on a link or attachment within the email, they will be directed to a page where they can purchase a data package (similar to Google Search).
Google+: Users can share photos and messages with those in the family, select friends or the public; follow updates on a number of things from cricket to photography, music to news; and follow the people they are interested in.
Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India, said, "The mobile Internet user base is growing fast in India. Working with Airtel on this trial means that we can offer Internet services at no cost to anyone with a phone."
While Airtel subscribers will not incur any data charges to access these services on Free Zone powered by Google, when they leave the Free Zone to navigate deeper into a Website or download an attachment, they will be informed about the data charges and given an option to purchase an appropriate data package.
Airtel recently lowered the tariff plans for 4G services for both prepaid and postpaid subscribers in Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh (the cities it is currently offering 4G services). Post reduction, the cheapest 4G plan is now available for Rs 450 and will provide users with free data allowance of 2GB. Similarly, Rs 650 and Rs 750 can now get you data benefit of 3GB and 4GB respectively.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)