Vodafone to offer web browsing on low-end handsets

Vodafone has announced plans to put the Opera Mini browser on low-cost handsets for customers in the developing world.

The customised version of the browser, developed in conjunction with Opera Software and based on Opera Mini 5, will run on low-end handsets on 2G networks.

It will initially be sold in India, South Africa, Turkey, Tanzania and Egypt, with other countries expected to follow in the near future.

It’s been embedded in 20 devices and is also downloadable to over 250  types of handset.

The company’s also created a simplified interface which it says is designed to make browsing easier for inexperienced users, with instructions in local languages and an emphasis on graphic icons.

Vodafone says it’s developing a range of applications for services such as email, finding a job, buying and selling services and products, learning foreign languages and getting access to global applications.

“With this product, we can transform even basic handsets into very capable internet browsing devices, enabling millions of people to enjoy the social and economic aspects of the internet that many already take for granted,” said Jonathan Bill, Vodafone Internet Services Head of Emerging Markets.

“By significantly enhancing the customer’s internet experience, this initiative will help to boost local economies by encouraging entrepreneurs to create a range of locally-inspired business models and services.”