Facebook has announced the launch of Express Wi-Fi in a bid to tackle the competition from Google. Touted to connect people in India, Facebook has established partnerships with ISPs and entrepreneurs. The social media giant had supplied the required software to service providers, which enables them to provide the Internet in the rural areas. To establish connectivity, people can access via public Wi-Fi hotspots. Meanwhile, Facebook had conducted a trial with the state-owned BSNL by establishing 125 rural Wi-Fi hotspots. This is the second major attempt by Facebook to bring free Internet access to people of India. Previously, the company had to abort the Free Basics in India due to large-scale agitation by tech lovers in India.
Even though the ambitious Express Wi-Fi project will not have to face any public outcry like in the past, it will be difficult for the Menlo Park-based company to move ahead based on the previous conduct. The company has to work hard to maintain trust among people.
To achieve the desired results, Facebook should conduct free training camps in rural areas to educate people about the benefits of the Express Wi-Fi initiative. If Facebook manages to succeed in the Express Wi-Fi project, then it will bring more power to the Digital India project.
Google Wi-Fi Project
In the meantime, Google has already made great inroads by setting up free Wi-Fi across all major railway stations. According to a popular business magazine, nearly two million people have already connected in India via Google’s railroad Wi-Fi hotspots. Facebook will find it tough to compete with Google since they have already made their presence in the free Wi-Fi segment.
The magazine added that Google has hit the right spot at the correct time. This is because the company is helping people to connect to the Internet securely through the country’s most preferred public transport system.
When people are waiting for their train to arrive, they will be able to browse the Internet on the go with their own smartphones without depending upon third-party devices in cafes.
Aimed at connecting 10 million users by the end of 2016, Google has launched high-speed Wi-Fi at 23 railway stations across India. The company is planning to expand the service to 400 stations in the upcoming years.
As you can observe, Google is far ahead than Facebook, which is currently starting to establish Express Wi-Fi. When people are used to Google Wi-Fi service, they will be hesitant to migrate to Facebook since it requires fresh setup. However, we can expect more companies to set up Wi-Fi on the roads so that people can have a choice rather than depending only upon Google.
Google shelved Free Basics copy in 2015
According to sources, Google had an interaction with telecom operators and developers to launch a zero rating platform in 2015. However, the project was shelved due to fear of public outrage since the project was similar to Facebook’s Free Basics.