Tax-free websites: what are they and how do they work?

One of the most common zero-rated websites is the MTN No data page which appears automatically when your packages expire or are sold out! Zero-rated websites have been around for quite some time and are specifically used for awareness, education and services purposes. Let’s discuss and understand what exactly they are and how they work in this article.

The internet is made up of interconnected computers and servers that listen to each other to relay information and sometimes accessing certain critical information can be expensive depending on the country you live in. In Uganda, there are many websites that can be accessed without internet packages, and these range from health, education, telecommunications, etc.

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What are zero-rated websites?

Zero-rate is the act of giving web access without monetary charge under specific circumstances, for example, allowing access to certain sites only. This means Internet Service Providers (ISPs) allow Internet users to consume a specific website without charging their internet data plan.

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

Read also : Safeboda is now zero-rated on MTN Uganda, hail a boda with no MB

How do tax-free websites work?

To access a zero-rated site, it is necessary to have an Internet connection even if its data plan is not affected. It is also important that a website can be zero-rated on MTN but not sure Airtel. Different telecom operators may have binding agreements with website owners or if they deem a certain site to be appropriate.

Most duty free sites are usually an initiative of ISPs to allow free exchange and access of information like what MTN Uganda has been doing for Containment related to covid-19. MTN Uganda has allowed free access to many e-learning and health related sites.

Read also : Here’s how to create a live website on Canva

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Are tax-free websites safe to use?

Absolutely yes! These websites are not special compared to normal sites. They are simply made free for users and sometimes may come with targeted advertisements or injected advertisements. Feel free to access and consume the information on these sites.

However, it is also important that these sites can also be exploited or attacked and act as a back door to the ISP or the site if the appropriate measures are not put in place by the owner and the ISP. Internet scammers can use SNI hosts to circumvent ISP limits by using these zero-rated sites to access the Internet for free.


If your ISP chooses to zero-rate a few sites on their network, it will save you a few megabytes or gigabytes of data. In fact, the amount of zero-rated sites has increased a lot of these searches, for example, “zero-rated MTN sites” and other telecom operators in play.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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