Facebook returning to India with commercial Express Wi-Fi service

Facebook is in talks with Indian internet service providers (ISPs) to commercially launch its Express Wi-Fi in India. The project will attempt to bring affordable broadband internet to rural parts of the country through partnerships with ISPs and small entrepreneurs.

A Facebook India spokesperson confirmed the company's activity, saying:

“We are testing Express Wi-Fi program in India currently that allows customers to purchase fast, reliable and affordable data packages from their local ISP to access the Internet via local hotspots.”

This is Facebook’s second attempt to provide internet connectivity in the country. Earlier, it had to abandon the widely criticised ‘Free Basics’ programme after the telecom regulator banned discriminatory pricing of different web services.

The social media company has developed software for rural markets which will help ISPs and entrepreneurs deliver internet in their localities which will help fill coverage gaps in the country. Facebook has left it up to un-named partners to develop scalable business models.

Both the new Express Wi-Fi and Free Basics fell under Facebook’s Internet.org project. The company has lured huge swathes of people from developed countries onto its social network but if it wants to bring people from unconnected areas to its site it believes it needs to help them get online first; this is where Internet.org comes in.

Source: Economic Times

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