After burning its fingers with Free Basics, prominent social networking giant Facebook is said to be testing a new model of public Wi-Fi services offering quality internet access in rural India. Express Wi-Fi is in negotiation with carriers, Internet service providers, and other local entrepreneurs to expand connectivity to remote locations which have not been covered by the web.
Facebook has revealed that the company’s Express Wifi is live in India and it is in talks with carriers to expand to locations which are poorly connected with the web. However, the company has not elaborated if the service provided will be limited to a few websites like nits free basics or it will provide full access.
Express Wifi will help local entrepreneurs make a steady income by giving quality internet access to their neighbors working with local Internet service providers using the software provided by Facebook to connect with like-minded communities.
Facebook is also experimenting with products like laser drones to provide better connectivity for users across the globe. When contacted Facebook answered in affirmative and said that it is indeed in the process of talks with ISP’s. However, it did not give details of the locations of the ISP it is partnering in the project. It did say that the service will provide quick, reliable and economical data packs through digital vouchers internet access through Express Wi-Fi network.
The US-based company had to pull out its controversial Free Basics program in India after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India barred it from charging differently for Internet access based on content. However, Facebook is running the program in many countries and was launched in India in partnership with Reliance Communication as Internet.org.
The program was later reintroduced as Free Basics and provided basic web access to consumers in partnership with telecom operators. Skeptics were highly critical of the service and said that it violated the principles of net neutrality which call for equal treatment for all contents and internet traffic.