Last week, we reported how Facebook has decided not to bring its unmanned solar-powered drone, Aquila, to the Indian subcontinent, leaving quite a few people disappointed. In order to pump up their spirits and improve the company’s position in the country, Facebook decided to divert the focus from Aquila to its Express Wifi project by spreading news in the media that the social media giant has now started testing the service in India. But, here’s the real news, Facebook has already been testing the service in rural India since last year. This was right around the same phase that the Mark Zuckerberg led competition was facing the flack in India for its Net neutrality initiative.
What is Express Wifi project?
Express Wifi is going to allow users to purchase internet from local data providers. So, it isn’t a free Wi-Fi service like tech giant’s Google’s free WiFi service at the Indian Railway Station. In order to make the Express Wifi project a success in India, Facebook is making use of the old cable operator model. The main aim of the project is to bring WiFi to areas in the country where even in the year 2016 the connectivity is very scarce.
Currently, Facebook has implemented the model in over a 100 rural villages all across India, where the users have to come to a particular community area in order to access the internet. The social networking giant has developed the commercially available Wi-Fi access point technology with their software. A local entrepreneur of that particular area can help people electronically buy internet for a price as low as ten rupees.
The social networking company, which enjoys its second largest user-base in India, is targeting entry-level phones with this project. There will be no restrictions whatsoever on the websites that can be accessed on the Wi-Fi network. It is important to note that Facebook is just creating Wi-Fi access points for users wanting to access the net, and it still makes use of local Internet service providers for the data. So, Facebook’s technology provides a helping hand in providing last mile connectivity where it is not yet available. To make it simpler to understand, the social networking giant is just acting as a technology enabler when it comes to Express Wi-Fi project.
The Express Wi-Fi project is actually an integral part of Facebook’s much talked about Internet.org mission. Through this mission, the Mark Zuckerberg led company aims to bring internet connectivity across the whole wide world, especially in the rural pockets. In addition to the Indian villages, Facebook has also been testing its Express Wi-Fi in some other parts of the world. Facebook’s Free Basics, which was banned by India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) earlier this year for violating the principles of net neutrality, was also a part of the Internet.org mission.
[Top Image: Munish Seth, Country Manager-Connectivity Solutions India region shows off how Express Wi-Fi will work. Credits: Indian Express]