Opera uses free apps to coax emerging nations toward the internet

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Opera uses free apps to coax emerging nations toward the internet

Mobile data is pricier in developing regions than in the west, a paradox that has held back mobile internet adoption on most of the planet. To help, Opera has unveiled App Pass, a service that lets smartphone users download and use apps without paying for data. It comes as part of Opera Max, an Android app that cuts mobile data usage by compressing it up to 50 percent. App Pass is targeted at emerging markets, and will let operators offer "free, sponsored or low-cost access to select apps." Users can then download and use them without paying for data over the duration of the pass.

Opera will launch the service with fellow Norwegian Teleno, a carrier that operates in Vietnam and other Asian regions, according to Techcrunch. It said "we're eager to see how this service is received in our markets. App Pass is designed to give customers easy control over costs related to data usage." Similar services already exist through carriers like Softbank, and other ventures like Internet.org from Facebook and its partners have also tried to stimulate internet takeup.

Wireless providers hope to the service will help prompt users to try the 'net, while Opera wants to boost its own browsers and Opera Max service. Telenor will just offer short-term passes for now, but Opera said it will eventually introduce sponsored and paid plans that give users a bundle of apps for a flat fee.
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