always had a fetish for free or low-cost Internet access, and continuing that philosophy is a new service the sultan of search is experimenting with. It's called "Free Zone" and it's intended to offer users in emerging markets access to several online Google products, including Google Search, on their feature phones.
"Free Zone is a bundle offered by mobile operators in association with Google that allows you to use Google+, Gmail, and Google Search for free. It's available for most Internet-enabled mobile phones," Google explains. "When you use these Google products through Free Zone on your mobile phone, you won't be charged for data. You can use Free Zone even if you haven't subscribed to a data plan with your operator."
Users who sign up for the service will then be able to visit any of the search links without incurring a data fee, so in that way, it's truly free Internet access. There doesn't appear to be any data caps in place, either.
This isn't a free pass to surf the web willy-nilly, however. When you click on a search link, you don't pay anything, but if you click on a link in the destination page, you'll need to pony up for a data plan.
"So for example, if you click on a search link to a Wikipedia article, you won't pay anything. But if you click on a link within that article, you will be charged for the data costs incurred loading that link," Google says, noting that you will always see a warning page with the option of purchasing a data plan before that happens.
Free Zone kicks off in the Phillippines with local carrier Globe, and is expected to launch in other emerging territories soon.