Zero-Rated Websites: What are they and How Do They Work

One of the most common zero-rated websites is the MTN No data page which automatically pops up when your bundles expire or get used up! Zero-rated websites have existed for some time and are specially used for awareness, education, and service-related purposes. Let’s get to discuss and understand what they are exactly and how they work in this article.

The internet is built of interconnected computers and servers listening to each other to relay information and sometimes accessing some critical information can be costly depending on the country you live in. In Uganda, there are many websites that can be accessed with no internet bundles, and these range from healthy, education, telecom sites, etc.

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What are zero-rated websites?

Zero-rating is the act of giving Web access without monetary expense under specific circumstances, for example, by permitting access to just certain sites. This means internet service providers (ISPs) allow netizens to consume a specific website without charging their internet data plan.

Internet services like Facebook, Wikipedia, and Google have built special programs to use zero-rating as means to provide their service more broadly in developing markets. I remember back then when I used to use Facebook Zero to stay connected with my friends despite the fact there was no display of images.

Also Read: Safeboda is now zero-rated on MTN Uganda, hail a boda without MBs

How do zero-rated websites work?

To access a zero-rated site, one is required to have an internet connection even though their data plan isn’t affected. It is also important that a website can be zero-rated on MTN but not on Airtel. Different telcos can have binding agreements with the website owners or if they see a certain site deems fit.

Most zero-rated sites are usually an initiative by the ISPs to allow free information exchange and access like what MTN Uganda did during COVID-19 lockdown. MTN Uganda allowed many e-learning and health-related sites to be accessed freely.

Also Read: Here’s How to Build a Live Website on Canva

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Are zero-rated websites safe to use?

Absolutely Yes! These websites are no special from normal sites. They are just made free for users and sometimes they can come with target ads or injected ads. Feel free to access and consume the information on such sites.

However, it is also important these sites can also be exploited or attacked and act as a backdoor to the ISP or site if proper measures are not put in place by the owner and ISP. Internet tricksters can use SNI Hosts to bypass ISP limits using these zero-rated sites to access free internet.


If your ISP chooses to zero-rate a few sites on their network, it will save you a couple of megabytes or gigabytes of data. As a matter of fact, the quantity of zero-evaluated sites has expanded a lot of that searches, for example, “MTN zero-rated sites” and other telcos in play.


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