Facebook is in the early stages of testing a Wi-Fi service in collaboration with internet service providers (ISPs) in India, a BBC report said. The program, called Express Wi-Fi, has already finished a trial period in India with a local state-run telecom and around 125 rural Wi-Fi hotspots.
“Express Wi-Fi empowers local entrepreneurs to help provide quality internet access to their neighbors and make a steady income. Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they’re able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities,” Facebook wrote on its internet.org page.
Facebook said it was partnering with “multiple local ISP partners” for this project. Ian Fogg, an analyst at HIS Technology said that Facebook hopes people who experience the internet via a Facebook initiative are more likely to become users of the social networking site.
“In emerging economies, Facebook is pursuing an intervention strategy to increase the pace of internet and online usage because this will also raise the addressable market for Facebook,” Fogg said.
But Facebook isn’t the first corporation trying to provide internet access to those without it in India. Google announced in September 2015 that it will provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across the country. The multinational technology company said it hoped to cover at least 100 of the busiest stations by the end of 2016 and has reportedly already covered 23 stations so far. Users are consuming 15 times more data on Google’s Wi-Fi than they would if on a cellular network. Users can access Google’s free Wi-Fi for about an hour with no cap on data volume yet.