The ‘Express Wifi’ initiative which was announced by Facebook recently is now live across several regions in India.
Facebook earlier tested the program with multiple local ISP partners but did not provide a specific date when it would officially launch.
The service allows customers to purchase low-cost data packages from their local internet service provider and connect via hotspots.
“With Express Wifi, we’re working with carriers, internet service providers, and local entrepreneurs to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world. We’re currently live in India, and are expanding to other regions soon,” the official page states.
Local entrepreneurs, it adds can help provide quality internet access to their neighbors by using software provided by Facebook to connect their communities. “When people are able to purchase fast, affordable and reliable internet, they’re able to explore the range of information it has to offer.”
Facebook has not divulged details on the carriers or the regions where the program is currently live. Earlier, reports stated that Facebook had tested a pilot version with 125 rural wifi hotspots. Probably, these are the areas that could benefit before others.
This is not Facebook’s first attempt at connecting millions of Indians to the internet. The social media giant launched Free Basics, an open platform that makes services and websites available free of cost to those who cannot afford internet access.
It started with free access to select 33 websites, subsequently increased to 80 websites. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) however blocked the Free Basics service as part of a ruling that supports net neutrality.
Trai strongly objected to Facebook’s “discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content” and banned the social network from offering the controversial service.