After ‘Free Basics’ Failed, Facebook Is Testing Express Wi-Fi In India

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Facebook’s plan to provide free access to several basic Internet services in India via its Free Basics program failed to get approval or attention, so it decided to pivot. Now the tech giant has taken on the difficult task of providing free high-speed internet services through minute data packages to rural subscribers in India.

Facebook  plans to build a sustainable economic model

According to Facebook’s website, the social network is testing a new model for public Wi-Fi deployments in underdeveloped areas of India. The website states that the model — codenamed “Express Wi-Fi” — is currently live in the country, and the U.S. firm is trying to expand the service to other places soon.

Facebook’s website says that Express Wi-Fi empowers local entrepreneurs to assist in providing quality internet access and make a fixed income. Local entrepreneurs working with mobile operators or local internet service providers will be able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities.

Facebook says it is working with local entrepreneurs, internet service providers, and carriers to assist expand connectivity to underserved locations worldwide. A spokesperson told Mashable India that Express Wi-Fi enables customers to purchase reliable, affordable and fast data packs to access the internet on the network.

Is Express Wi-Fi a substitute for Free Basics?

A spokesperson confirmed the development but did not mention anything different from the facts that are already known, notes The Tech Portal. It did not even say whether the new service will be limited to the same few websites like the Free Basics program, which was previously cancelled for violating net neutrality terms in India, or whether it will provide unlimited access.

Also the spokesperson gave no information on the partners tapped by the U.S. firm for the test run or the locations where the tests are being carried out. The social media platform has also not revealed pricing details to access the internet.

“We focus on building a sustainable economic model for all stakeholders involved, so that local retailer entrepreneurs, ISPs, operators and Facebook can continue to invest in and operate lasting connectivity,” the spokesperson said.

The tech giant is already working with telecom carriers like the state-owned BSNL to provide the needed bandwidth for more than 125 rural areas by setting up basic infrastructure, notes The Tech Portal. According to the reports, the tech giant will depend upon a 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency band for the project and will provide speeds up to 2 Mbps.

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