Bharti Airtel, India's leading telecom operator, has joined forces with Facebook to deploy 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in India to deliver the internet using Facebook's Express WiFi service.
Like we said earlier, the service is, at present, available only in four states - Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya where it's enabled by AirJaldi, Tikona, LMES, and Shaildhar ISPs, respectively.
The Express Wi-Fi initiative is also live in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia and is being handled by Seth from Facebook's Gurugram office.
Facebook said that anyone could access the Express Wi-Fi network by signing up with an Express Wi-Fi retailer and purchasing a daily, weekly or monthly data pack at a rate set by our partners. "Express Wi-Fi is part of our global initiative and we want to expand Internet connectivity to underserved locations", PTI quoted Facebook Asia Pacific Head of Connectivity Solutions, Munish Seth as saying.
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Facebook said that it is commercially rolling out Express Wi-Fi, a program under which local entrepreneurs can sell Internet to users in a locality. "They also help Indians connect to the Internet easily and for an affordable rate", he said. The company has been running trials in various parts of the country for over a year.
He also said that "this will kill the need of owning 4G devices and that will be immensely helpful for India where 4G is catching up fast but has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream". Facebook is launching a service that'll connect the country with the internet. Facebook is steering itself clear of those approaches this time. The service aims at enabling high-speed low-priced internet so as to provide basic access to everyone and also open up the online world of content and entertainment. In addition to offering free Wi-Fi at over 100 railway stations, Google is also moulding its apps and services to cater to the local needs.
As James Beldock, Facebook's product manager for Express Wi-Fi, told me, the idea behind this project was always to create an entrepreneurial grassroots base for the service.
With much of India yet to get online, both Facebook and Google see the country as a place to further grow of their respective userbases, Roy added. Only about 400 million of its 1.3 billion people now have access to the internet. However, Wi-Fi has limited range and it is hard to connect a wide area using the technology.