Facebook has confirmed that it is in the early stages of testing its Express Wifi service that will provide internet access in rural India where usage is not widespread. This proposal is in line with the organization’s aim of providing online connectivity to everyone across the world. The company will collaborate with local service providers to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in areas sans data network.
The ambitious program is currently being tested in India, which hosts Facebook’s largest user population after the US. Rural India is one of the largest untapped markets for internet service providers (ISPs) and by providing connectivity, the social media network hopes to increase its own online base. Express Wifi will be spread to other places if it achieves success in its inaugural country.
Instead of setting up its own Wi-Fi zones, Facebook will bring in local ISPs who have the infrastructure in place to deliver data connectivity. The first version of the program was launched in partnership with state-owned telecom provider BSNL. The company is offering software to local ISPs that allow them to sell data packages for public Wi-Fi hotspots using which subscribers can surf the web.
Facebook is counting on the fact that people who are introduced to the internet by a particular online brand will most likely get comfortably attached to it. It’s already working to deliver the full package of the latest news and entertainment along with personalization right within its bounds. The networking site is already popular among the online population and it intends to crack remote areas to gain more users.
This is Facebook’s second attempt in India to provide data connectivity to rural areas. Its previous plan to grant free internet access to such regions was scrapped by TRAI on grounds of it flouting net neutrality.