Facebook preparing for commercial launch of rural Wi-Fi

Facebook is busy meeting with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in India to expand its Express Wi-Fi facility. The company has partnered with BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) to complete the pilot program of the Express Wi-Fi program. This pilot program consisted of rolling out 125 rural public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide ease of access to first-time internet users.

This initiative is headed by Mark Zuckerberg to bring affordable broadband to rural areas in India by partnering with ISP’s and small entrepreneurs. The program is currently being tested and allows the users to purchase affordable, reliable and fast internet plans from the local ISPs.

According to people involved, Facebook in investing in developing a connectivity ecosystem by providing commercial as well as technical assistance to local ISPs and entrepreneurs. This is to target the two-third population of the country that is yet to access the internet.

Facebook’s previous outing, the Free Basics, was pulled down for discriminatory pricing of data services. The current approach works in conjunction with the TRAI to push for increasing the number of Wi-Fi hotspots through the consultation paper to spread affordable broadband.