Facebook testing Express WiFi service in India

By : |August 9, 2016 0

Facebook has launched new paid internet service called Express WiFi that allows India’s mobile phone owners in underserved locations to purchase data from local internet service providers in order to access the internet. A pilot version of the program, in partnership with a state-owned telecoms provider, is currently live at 125 rural WiFi hotspots in the country, reports the BBC.

Noticeably, this is Facebook’s second attempt to provide the internet to Indians. But this time, the access isn’t free as it was the case with Free basics. The social network tried to offer the internet in India for free starting last year with a program called Free Basics. However, the company faced substantial regulatory roadblocks and Free Basics was eventually banned by India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority in February citing net neutrality principles as a decisive factor in its ruling.

CIOL Facebook testing Express WiFi service in India

                                 

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“While we’re disappointed with [the] decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India,” stated Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the time. “We will keep working until everyone has access to the Internet.”

Express WiFi skirts the entire net neutrality debate with paid web access. Consequently, Facebook’s long-term goal of providing internet access to developing nations in a bid to broaden its user base will now likely continue unabated.

“Express WiFi empowers local entrepreneurs to help provide quality internet access to their neighbors and make a steady income,” wrote Facebook on its Internet.org website. “Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they’re able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities.”

With over 142 million Facebook users, India is Facebook’s second-largest market. A majority of that figure (133 million) access Facebook via mobile, making India a natural starting point for Facebook’s global internet-serving ambitions.

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