Facebook, which reaches out to a very large populace across the world, plans to bring cheaper internet to India by empowering rural areas with wi-Fi connections. India is a very huge market for the internet and internet related services. The Indian market with its untapped potential and large user base presents a great opportunity for companies like Facebook through the Digital India initiative.
Mobile towers which cover about 6,500 km of Indian terrains have been built as part of Facebook's plan to give Wi-Fi access to give remote villages an easy access to the Internet. Microwave dishes sent signals from the base station to the mountain towers and to the other internet access points spread across 40 Indian villages.
One Indian citizen from the Garhwal region, close to the Nepal border, has quoted using the internet for at least 4 hours using Facebook and playing games. This is possible through the latest the Express Wi-Fi from Facebook.
The Express Wi-Fi is currently cheaper in comparison to Airtel, the most reliable cellular operator in the mountainous region. The Express Wi-Fi is is priced at one third their similar offered services. The Express Wi-Fi is available in different data plans. It is available for Rs. 10 for 100 MB data and about Rs. 200 for 20 GB data. These plans are available with a validity for a month.
However, sometimes there is a problem of connectivity as the internet can be accessed only at certain parts of the region. The problem continues to be experienced in Garhwal which curently has only a single Express Wi-Fi access point. The internet access points are mainly focused on areas which are concentrated with businesses.
The Express Wi-Fi is part of the Internet.org. The internet.org is Facebook's ambitious plan to make the internet accessible to those who don't have access to internet services. The Express Wi-Fi offers basic internet services for free, as part of its package. This is not offered by local cellular carriers in 25 countries including India.
Improving access to the internet is part of Internet.org's goal. India continues to be a significant market for Facebook and is being used as a testing ground by the company to test the success of its services.
Facebook is reported to already have about 130 million Indian users. Facebook's user base is expected to increase as it continues to grow with the Express Wi-Fi trying to make its services more accessible to rural India.