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Upstream Claims They Are Connecting Millions Of Users To “Internet Essentials” For Free.

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At Techzim we are particularly stoked about the opportunity of the internet and when we hear that an organisation is providing access to millions of people at no cost we are particularly excited about that.

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That’s exactly what Upstream claims to have done – providing free mobile internet to 215 million consumers in emerging markets by partnering 7 mobile operators in 5 South American and African Countries through their Zero-D program which is a partnership with mobile network operators. Upstream connects phone users who have run out of data at any one time to access the web for news, healthcare and education purposes

The upstream model on Zero-D is pretty fascinating. Users won’t have access to everything on the web but will have access to what Upstream calls essentials which is the following:

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  • A search bar
  • News headlines and articles aggregated on Zero-D
  • chat functionality within the Zero-D platform

Interestingly, Upstream doesn’t mention which mobile operators they have partnered with but they do mention that in Africa they had 80 million consumers from South Africa, Ghana, Tunisia and Congo.

Whilst the claims made by Upstream are interesting the lack of data regarding the countries in which they are present in, along with the fact that most of their coverage (at least the stuff I could find) involves press releases from their website which doesn’t help much to actually know what the current position is regarding this startup and whether or not they’ve made as big an impact as they claim.


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