AMSTERDAM, Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- "VimpelCom Ltd." ("VimpelCom", "Company" or "Group") (NYSE: VIP), a leading global provider of telecommunications services, and the Wikimedia Foundation, operator of Wikipedia, the web-based, multilingual, free-content encyclopedia project, today announced a partnership to deliver free Wikipedia access to VimpelCom customers.
Through Wikipedia Zero, VimpelCom's mobile customers will have free access to the mobile version of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, along with a light-weight, text-only fast version of the site. Locally-relevant articles in local language versions of Wikipedia will be available along with the English version.
Wikipedia is the largest collection of knowledge ever assembled. Featuring more than 23 million articles available in 280 languages, Wikipedia is the world's fifth most visited website with a 483 million-strong global readership.
Mikhail Gerchuk, VimpelCom's Group Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, said: "The world's sixth largest telecommunications company and fifth largest website globally are coming together to offer our customers a better mobile experience and greater access to free knowledge, particularly in emerging markets. This is a win-win partnership that helps us to promote the mobile internet to our customers while contributing to Wikipedia's mission to bring free access to the entire world's knowledge."
"We're very happy VimpelCom is joining us in removing a major barrier to accessing Wikipedia on mobile phones. This partnership is an important step forward in our mission to bring free knowledge to everyone on the planet," said Kul Takanao Wadhwa, Head of Mobile with the Wikimedia Foundation. "In conjunction with VimpelCom, one of the largest telecommunication providers in the world, we're now able to expand free access to Wikipedia in more countries. With this partnership, Wikipedia Zero is now available to 330 million mobile users around the world."
Wikipedia Zero will be rolled out in VimpelCom operations across the globe starting this year, with focus on emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. While Wikipedia Zero will be the first initiative of the partnership to launch, both partners are also expected to jointly develop additional Wikimedia services to target emerging markets in the future.
This latest agreement is part of VimpelCom's consistent strategy of providing its customers with the best mobile experience and complements the previously announced partnership with Opera Mini to provide a mobile web browser optimized for basic phones.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements", as the phrase is defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act. These statements relate to the timing and scope of the Company's rollout of Wikipedia Zero and the continued partnership with Wikimedia Foundation. These and other forward-looking statements are based on management's best assessment of the Company's position and of future market conditions and trends. These discussions involve risks and uncertainties. The actual outcome may differ materially from these statements as a result of continued volatility in the economies in our markets, unforeseen developments from competition, governmental regulation of the telecommunications industries, general political uncertainties in our markets and/or litigation with third parties. There can be no assurance that such risks and uncertainties will not have a material adverse effect on the Company. Certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in any forward-looking statements include the risk factors described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011 and other public filings made by the Company with the SEC, which risk factors are incorporated herein by reference. The Company disclaims any obligation to update developments of these risk factors or to announce publicly any revision to any of the forward-looking statements contained in this release, or to make corrections to reflect future events or developments.
VimpelCom is one of the world's largest integrated telecommunications services operators providing voice and data services through a range of traditional and broadband mobile and fixed technologies in Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Laos, Algeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic and Canada. VimpelCom's operations around the globe cover territory with a total population of approximately 780 million people. VimpelCom provides services under the "Beeline", "Kyivstar", "djuice", "Wind", "Infostrada" "Mobilink", "Leo", "banglalink", "Telecel", and "Djezzy" brands. As of September 30, 2012 VimpelCom had 212 million mobile subscribers on a combined basis. VimpelCom is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol (VIP). For more information visit: http://www.vimpelcom.com
About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 483 million unique visitors per month, making them the fifth-most popular web property world-wide (comScore, November 2012). Available in 285 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 24 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of roughly 80,000 people. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants. For more information visit: http://wikimediafoundation.org, http://blog.wikimedia.org
SOURCE VimpelCom Ltd