Published: Sat, May 06, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Merle Christensen

Facebook launches 20000 Wifi hotspots with Bharti Airtel

Facebook launches 20000 Wifi hotspots with Bharti Airtel

Working in tandem with state-run and local internet service providers (ISPs) and entrepreneurs, Facebook will provide technological, infrastructural, and commercial assistance to bring internet connectivity to rural India. Services in Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya are now enabled by AirJaldi, Tikona, LMES, and Shaildhar ISPs, respectively. Express Wi-Fi is now live in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia as well.

Facebook will basically use Bharti Airtel's existing network to sell its paid Express Wi-Fi internet data services to customers at low prices by going local. It will also empower the local entrepreneurs to start their own business for offering internet access in their regions. According to Munish Seth, regional head for Facebook Connectivity Solutions in APAC, they chose to partner with Bhati Airtel to expand the Express WiFi footprint in India and that things are already in the planning stages.

It finally pulled the plug on the programme in February past year in this country, after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) barred operators from charging discriminatory rates for net access based on content. Moreover, when people are able to purchase fast, affordable and reliable internet, they're able to explore the world more. One that would give Indian developers the chance to offer their services and websites for free of cost to citizens that can not afford to pay for the internet.

Facebook Express WiFi is in some aspects, quite similar to Google's free WiFi program in India.

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Facebook has finally rolled out its Express Wi-fi Project in India, as announced by Mark Zuckerberg in his Facebook post.

Express Wi-Fi won't be free like Free Basics- which provided access to select websites at no cost. "We believe this will help in empowering millions of Indians by bringing them online and contribute to the Government's Digital India vision", Ajai Puri, Chief Operating Officer (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

With a major increase in the sales of smartphones in the last few years, the use of internet has also increased to a vast extent.

Explaining how this will work, Seth says that anyone can access the express WiFi network by signing up with an Express WiFi retailer. There have been about 700 hotspots installed by the company in these areas. It may end up benefiting Facebook as a company, but getting more people on the internet will also be seen as a humanitarian endeavour by the company.

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