Everyone loves free Wi-Fi. Internet giants like Facebook and Google has been pushing for internet penetration around the world for many years.
Facebook started internet.org in 2013 to get about 4.5 billion unconnected people on internet. Since then, the company is moving straight towards its goal of bringing more population online with services like Free Basics and Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi. These programs are designed to provide fast, reliable and affordable internet to people from developing or underdeveloped nations, thus tempting them to at least try the basic online services including entertainment, study material, online booking, e-commerce etc. When it comes to developing nations, India is always there in top few. But even in India, out of 1.3 billion, only around 400 million people are online; says a report from Telecom Regulatory authority of India (TRAI).
Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi comes as a flexible solution to poor connectivity problem of India by taking help from local entrepreneurs in establishing Wi-fi hotspots in their localities. The program started testing with various ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in India way back in 2015 and after 2 years of development, there are in total 700 Express hotspots at service spread over four states- Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujrat and Meghalaya.
Just Few days back, Facebook signed a huge deal with Airtel to plant additional 20,000 hotspots which is going to spread Express Wi-fi’s umbrella over other states in the country. Although 4G network is growing really fast in India, but it will take years to become a mainstream option. Till then, Express Wi-fi will serve the needs of fast and affordable internet without any need of 4G device. Munish Seth, head of connectivity solutions at Facebook, said about country’s connectivity problem.
One can say Wi-fi is the easiest possible way to access high speed internet. You don’t need a 4G sim card, or a LAN connection. Just you and your device supporting Wi-fi feature will do the job. The initiative will also bring new earning medium for local retailers who can resell internet to get a steady income stream. Moreover, Facebook is providing all the necessary software and data analytics free of cost along with giving full control of data prices to the entrepreneur.
“Anyone can access the Express Wi-fi network by signing up with an Express Wi-fi retailer and purchasing a daily, weekly or monthly data pack at a rate set by the local service provider. They will then be able to connect to the Express Wi-fi hotspot, register/ create an account, login and start browsing or use any app on the internet”. Seth further added explaining the whole process of getting internet over Express Wi-fi.
Free Basics was another such initiative from Facebook which didn’t get a green signal from TRAI for violating net neutrality. Hopefully, Express Wi-fi doesn’t face any issues in future and runs smoothly. As of now, besides India, the service is live in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria And Indonesia.
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