The social media giant brought the “Express WiFi” feature partnered with Airtel. In this Express Wi-Fi facility, the company will offer internet service for people in rural areas through the public hotspots. You can call it as a different version of the criticised “Free Basics” program of last year. So what is the difference between the Free Basics program and the Facebook Express Wi-Fi? The difference is, Free Basics was targeted to offer fast network services to selected websites. But the Express Wi-Fi will work on a paid model, and they will not limit the access to certain websites.
Role of Facebook in Express Wi-Fi
At present the telecom partner is Airtel. The users can log into the public Wi-Fi hotspots through the partner telecom operators. From there you can buy daily, weekly or monthly data packs from the local entrepreneurs. Facebook has partnered with Airtel, and it will deploy more than 20000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the next few months.
According to Facebook Asia Pacific Head of Connectivity Solutions Munish Seth,
India’s population is about 1.3 billion people, but only 390 million are connected to the Internet. Express Wi-Fi is part of our global initiative, and we want to expand Internet connectivity to underserved locations.
He also added that Facebook is working with the ISPs and more than 500 local entrepreneur-retailers.
With a major increase in the sales of smartphones in the last few years, the use of internet has also increased to a vast extent. And this is why the data prices have also come down, especially after Reliance Jio came up. Apart from that RailTel also offered free Wi-Fi at different railway stations through public hotspots.
A chance for local entrepreneurs to boost their business
Facebook will play the role of offering platforms and solutions. They will not take an involvement in the charges of the ISP or telecom operators. The operator will select the pricing, and they will handle the data as the internet traffic flows. The free Express Wi-Fi service is available in 700 hotspots through four different states of India. They are Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujrat and Meghalaya.
From 2015, Facebook started testing Express Wi-Fi. Apart from India, it is still available in four other countries namely Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, and Indonesia. The objective of Express Wi-Fi is to complement mobile data offerings by offering a low-cost and high bandwidth alternative to get the online and access apps, stream contents and download. It will also empower the local entrepreneurs to start their own business for offering internet access in their regions. It will help you to connect to the web easily and more affordably.