Facebook on Thursday launched its Express Wi-Fi service in India, with which almost 700 hotspots will be available across the four states of Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya and Rajasthan. Facebook has also announced that they are partnering with Airtel tp launch 20,000 new Express Wi-Fi by Facebook hotspots in "over the next few months".
Facebook said that it, with the help of other Internet service providers and local businesses, have created nearly 700 hotspots in four Indian states where residents can buy access to the web at presumably low costs.
Express Wi-Fi is one of Facebook's many connectivity initiatives under its internet.org umbrella.
Users can buy daily, weekly, or monthly packs and access the internet without restriction, unlike with Free Basics.
"Express Wi-Fi is created to complement mobile data offerings by providing a low-priced, high bandwidth alternative for getting online and access apps, download and stream content", Munish Seth, Facebook's head of connectivity solutions for Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.
Before you start having flashbacks to the last time Facebook tried to get Indians online, you should know that Express Wi-Fi works on a paid basis.
"Our goal is to grow the number of Express Wi-Fi hotspots in India rapidly", added Seth.
The countries mentioned above are delighted to have its collaboration with Express Wi-Fi.
Express Wi-Fi mainly meant to complement the mobile data offerings.
Express Wi-Fi is the part of Facebook's global initiative.
This is Facebook's second attempt to bring millions of Indians online.
Facebook Express WiFi is in some aspects, quite similar to Google's free WiFi program in India. While Google is relying on Railways' Railtel network, enabling internet connectivity at hundreds of railway stations, Microsoft has been trying to use White-Fi technology, which uses the unlicensed television broadcast spectrum to reach areas that are hundreds of kilometres away from the optical fibre cables. The company has been testing the product in India and has been operating a little over 700 Wi-Fi hotspots, working with around 500 village-level entrepreneurs. Seth says he believes the Indian market is big enough for all companies to cater for consumers.
Reconfirming the very objective of Express WiFi, Seth said, "A major part of the world is not connected (to the internet) due to lack of infrastructure, lack of awareness and affordability".