Facebook offers India cheap Wi-Fi via 20000 hotspots

Facebook launches 700 Express Wi Fi hotspots in India ties up with Airtel to roll out 20,000 more

Dado Ruvic Reuters

Facebook revealed the service has been in testing since 2015 with various ISPs and is now commercially available via almost 700 hotspots across four states - Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya.

Facebook has partnered with Bharti Airtel to launch 20,000 Wifi hotspots across India as part of its Express Wifi service. Currently, the service is available in just four cities - Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Meghalaya - and just over 700 hotspots have been installed.

Facebook Express Wi-Fi, one of the major connectivity-focused initiatives under the internet.org projects, has been under testing in rural sections of India for quite some time.

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Users would be able to log on to Wi-Fi hotspots and buy daily, weekly or monthly data packs.

Express Wi-Fi empowers local entrepreneurs to provide quality internet access to their neighbors and earn steady income.

Munish Seth, regional head APAC, Facebook Connectivity Solutions has confirmed these developments, as he said, "Airtel is already in the planning stage for this deployment,".

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Facebook has partnered with Bharti Airtel to launch 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots on a Pan-India basis. One that would give Indian developers the chance to offer their services and websites for free of cost to citizens that can not afford to pay for the internet.

This is Facebook's second attempt to bring millions of Indians online. Under the Free Basics program, Facebook and its Internet service provider partners, would provide Internet access to Indians for free with the caveat that only certain websites would be available.

Internet user base in the country had significantly increased in the last few years, helped by smartphones becoming more affordable and data prices falling, especially after the roll out of Reliance Jio's services. 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. He said that this Express Wi-Fi would empower millions of Indians. According to Facebook, it was an "open platform". Here, Google made use of the flying ring of balloons to provide internet access to the earth below. We've helped connect more than 50 million people to the internet through programs like this, and we're looking forward to hearing more stories like his.

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