The well known social networking website Facebook and Indian telecom operator Airtel have joined hands to provide 20,000 wi-fi hotspots to Indians. This is Facebook’s ” Express Wi-Fi Scheme ” which is determined to give accessibility to thousands of new users of the Internet in India.
Under their Express Wi-Fi Scheme, Facebook has already set 700 wi-fi hotspots across India in collaboration with other telecoms and broadband players but the collaboration with Airtel is the biggest in all. In Uttarakhand, Facebook has teamed up with AirJaldi, while they have partnered with LMES in Rajasthan, Tikona in Gujarat, and Shaildhar in Meghalaya.
Munish Seth, regional head APAC, Facebook Connectivity Solutions has confirmed these developments, as he said, “Airtel is already in the planning stage for this deployment”. The chief operating officer ( India and South Asia) of Bharti Airtel, Mr. Ajai Puri has hoped that this will help India in empowering their citizens as millions of new Internet users will be inducted with the help of this scheme.
Facebook Express Wi-Fi Program
The footprints of the Facebook Express Wi-Fi Scheme can be traced from the year 2015. It was launched with the aim of providing more connectivity and more awareness about the high-speed Internet with the help of wi-fi hotspots.
This model is based on unique collaboration between entrepreneurs, ISPs, and Facebook, it also aims to produce more employment. Local entrepreneurs have agreed to sell coupons/vouchers starting from Rs 10 to Rs 100-200. Meanwhile, the prices of Internet connectivity will be set by the ISP, infrastructure, and logistics would be provided by Facebook. A minimum speed of 10 Mbps is assured under this program, and the user needs to furnish KYC details before activating the plan, bought from retailers.
With the help of existing 700 hotspots network, this scheme has already started to provide work and jobs to about 500 entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Meghalaya.
Interestingly, Facebook and Airtel have already partnered for setting up infrastructure and the backbone of Express WiFi via optical fiber in Uganda, the model of which has now been expanded to India. This scheme is right now live in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia, besides India.
Seth said, “We have grown the business to become sustainable in India, and believe the technology can be homogenized. We have now moved away from the beta stage and are into rapidly expanding the footprint.”
Now the most important question about this scheme is that whether Express WiFi breaks net neutrality principles or not?