Facebook to offer WiFi to villages near railway stations

By : |August 25, 2016 0

After completing a pilot run of Express WiFi in 125 Indian villages, Facebook has now approached another government ISP, RailTel for offering WiFi in India, reports ET.

Facebook would be second company after tech giant Google which already offers free WiFi hotspots at railway stations in partnership with RailTel that has a readily available optic fibre-based network across some 4,000 railway stations in the country.

RK Bahuguna, chairman of Indian Railways’ communications arm RailTel, said the company will start talks with Facebook for expanding its WiFi coverage not only to railway stations but to villages in the vicinity as well.

“Facebook India has approached us for the WiFi initiative. We will engage with the company for the expansion of our Internet access program across railways stations to cover villages in the vicinity,” Bahuguna told ET.

He further added that with this partnership, they can expand their connectivity to a 10-km radius from a rail stop.This can be further increased up to 25 Km through additional access points. In this way, RailTel could provide Internet access to more than 40,000 villages surrounding 4,000 railway stations where it is already present.

Though the move is in line with Facebook’s plans to offer the internet in India but the company hasn’t yet confirmed the reports. Unlike Free Basics, this Facebook initiative enables local businesses and entrepreneurs with an option to buy bandwidth from ISPs and offer local WiFi services.

The company will provide both commercial and technical assistance to them and also customize software for these businesses to deal with a poor cellular network in rural areas.

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