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  • Facebook tests Express Wifi in India, Gears up for Launch

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    Image Courtesy: networkedindia.com

     

    Facebook is presently testing the “Express Wi-Fi” that will enable users to procure low-cost data plans from the local ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to gain access to fast and quality internet facility through public Wi-Fi hotspots.

     

    According to Internet.org page of the Facebook, the company’s express WiFi service is live in India and it is “working with carriers, internet service providers and local entrepreneurs to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world”.

     

    It is expected to expand to other regions of the World as well. However, Facebook didn’t indicate if the Express Wi-Fi would provide full access to the websites like Free Basics, or limited access.

        

    A Facebook spokesperson told the Press Trust of India that "This solution empowers ISPs, operators and local entrepreneur-retailers to offer quality Internet access to their village, town or region,"

     

    The spokesperson also added that Facebook was working with local ISPs to test the Express Wi-Fi program in major cities and the customers can purchase lightning fast, affordable and reliable internet data packs on the Express Wi-Fi network via digital vouchers. However, Facebook has neither shared the pricing details of the vouchers nor the details of places where the Express Wifi program is currently running.

     

    Facebook, a US-based company had to stop its controversy-ridden ‘Free Basics program’ in India after the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) barred the ISP from charging discriminatory rates for Internet access based on content. India rejected Facebook's 'free' version of the Internet.

     

    Free Basics program was launched in the year 2014 and is presently running across many countries. It started in India in partnership with Reliance Communication as Internet.org. It was later rebranded as the Free Basics that aimed at offering basic internet access to the people of India.

     

    Many believed that it violated the net neutrality principles that champions equal treatment of all internet traffic. As per the latest report available with the TRAI, India had a total of 131.49 million "broadband" connections by the end of November 2015. This 131.49 million is only about the 10% of the country’s population which is over 1.25 billion. What India requires is more connectivity.

     

    The privacy advocates have asked the Facebook to consider amending the service and instead of offering unlimited access to a restricted (basic) Internet, Facebook should better by give limited, free access to the entire Internet. It appears that Facebook has taken a note of these advices while building Express WiFi.

     

    It's still an open question whether Facebook's “Express Wi-Fi” project will succeed in the long term. Hope you like the article, thank you.

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