Facebook has partnered with Bharti Airtel to launch 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots on a Pan-India basis. The initiative is expected to bring affordable Internet across the country. The hotspots will be installed in the upcoming months. Facebook had earlier attempted something similar with the Freebasics which went awfully wrong since it grossly violated the net neutrality.
The service is called “Express Wi-Fi” and is currently live in five countries including India, Tanzania, Indonesia and Nigeria. In the pilot phase, Facebook had begun testing the Express Wi-Fi services in Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Meghalaya via the 700 hotspots that have been opened up for commercial use.
Express WiFi has been partnering with the predominant ISP’s in the local regions, for instance, they have partnered with AirJaldi in Uttarakhand, LMES in Rajasthan, Tikona in Gujarat and Shaildhar in Meghalaya. The service aims at enabling high-speed low-cost internet so as to provide basic access to everyone and also open up the online world of content and entertainment. This move is also expected to help the local entrepreneurs and hopefully, we should be able to see localised startups making their mark.
“We are delighted to be a part of this initiative to provide affordable access to high-speed data to users across India, particularly in the underserved segment. We believe this will help in empowering millions of Indians by bringing them online and contribute to the Government’s Digital India vision”- Ajay Puri COO, Bharti Airtel
Customers can access the services by buying a daily, weekly or monthly plans from the Express Wi-Fi retailers similar to how one would purchase recharge currency for their prepaid mobile connections. The Express Wi-Fi will allow the subscribers to browse any part of the Internet, thankfully, no differential pricing here. Ever since Reliance Jio has been launched in India the Internet consumption rate is steadily increasing further this has also made way for a fierce competition which has now forced the incumbent Telcos to offer more data at less price.