Facebook Begins Express Wi-Fi service in Rural India: Everything you need to Know

    Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi service is aimed to offer quality internet access in rural parts of the country.

    By Rohit

    After months of criticisms and facing troubles for allegedly violating net neutrality with Free Basics, Facebook has finally started its ambitious Express Wi-Fi service in India. The Social Networking Giant is testing a new model for public Wi-Fi deployments to offer quality internet access in rural parts of the country.

    Facebook Begins Express Wi-Fi service in Rural India

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    As per Facebook, the company's Express Wifi is live in India and it is "working with carriers, internet service providers and local entrepreneurs to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world". The service will soon expand to other regions across the country.

    Facebook’s ambitious vision for Indian internet space

    The Express Wi-Fi service is Facebook's project to connect the unconnected Indian citizens to the world by providing affordable internet service.

    As Facebook says, the service is aimed to empower local entrepreneurs to help provide quality internet access to their neighbours and make a steady income. By working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they are able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities.

    Besides, Facebook is experimenting with products like laser drones to enhance internet connectivity for users across the world.


    Facebook joins hands with Regional Internet service providers

    Facebook joins hands with Regional Internet service providers

    As per a report by Economic times, a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed that the company was currently working with internet service providers to test Express Wi-Fi with public Wi-Fi deployments in many pilot sites. This solution empowers ISPs, operators, and local entrepreneur retailers to offer quality Internet access to their village, town or region. The locations and region names are not yet disclosed.

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    Access internet by Digital Vouchers

    Customers willing to use Express Wi-Fi service could purchase affordable data packs via digital vouchers to access the Internet on the Express Wi-Fi network. There's no such mention about the pricing of these digital vouchers as of now.

    Facebook Express Wi-Fi service vs Others

    As per previous reports, the Express Wi-Fi was cheaper in comparison to Airtel, the most reliable cellular operator in the mountainous region. The Express Wi-Fi plans start 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, thing have not changed with the arrival of Reliance Jio. The telco is now in plans to offer broadband services in the country with a name 'Jio GigaFiber'. RJIL will start offering the packs from Rs. 500 and the highest pack will be of Rs. 5,500. The Rs. 500 pack offers you 600GB of data with no speed cap and will be valid for 28 days.

    The Controversy

    As noted, the service was launched in India in partnership with Reliance Communications as Internet.org. Facebook's ambitious plan was in the midst of a controversy over alleged violation of Net neutrality, to 'Free Basics' and was later renamed as Free Basics--aimed at providing basic Internet access to people in partnership with telecom operators.

    Facebook faced criticism for launching the platform as it is seen violating the principle of Net neutrality, which is against any priority being accorded to an entity in the Internet traffic flow because of payments to service providers such as telecom companies. Following a walkout by many of its publisher partners in India, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had come out in defence of the programme, saying it did not block or throttle services and is not in conflict with Net neutrality. Daniels said the company has been in discussions with stakeholders to present its view on the issue.

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