Facebook's Express Wi-Fi Is Now Live In India
After failure of its ambitious Free Basics project, social media giant Facebook has now introduced a paid Wi-Fi service in India. In a bid to empower people in the rural region with the power of digitization, Facebook has announced the availability of its “Express Wifi” service in India. The company which had faced criticism for allegedly violating net neutrality with Free Basics, is now testing a new model for public Wi-Fi deployments for offering quality internet access in rural parts of the country.
According to Facebook’s Internet.org page, the company’s “Express Wifi” is live in India and it is “working with carriers, internet service providers and local entrepreneurs to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world”.
Express Wifi empowers local entrepreneurs to help provide quality internet access to their neighbors and make a steady income, it further said. “Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they are able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities,” it said.
However, Facebook did not indicate if the Wi-Fi will provide limited access of a few websites, like its Free Basics, or provide full access. Facebook is also experimenting with products like laser drones to enhance internet connectivity for users across the world.
Unlike Internet.org, Express Wifi by Facebook isn’t free Internet. The exact details are not clear right now, but customers can purchase data packs via digital vouchers. Details on how these purchases will take place, or where, are unclear at the moment. Facebook has also not shared the rates it is charging for Express Wifi, only saying it is a “sustainable model”.
The US-based company had pulled the plug on its controversy- ridden ‘Free Basics programme’ in India in February this year after telecom regulator Trai barred operators from charging discriminatory rates for Internet access based on content.
Launched in 2014, Facebook continues to run the program across many countries. The service was launched in India in partnership with Reliance Communications as Internet.org.
The service, which was later rebranded as Free Basics aimed at providing basic Internet access to people in partnership with telecom operators. However, critics slammed the service saying it violated the principle of net neutrality that advocates equal treatment of all internet traffic.
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