Facebook is testing an Express WiFi service in India and is in talks with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for a commercial launch. The social network has completed a pilot roll out of 125 rural public Wi-Fi hotspots in the country with a tie-up with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
Headed by Mark Zuckerberg, the aim of the initiative is to bring affordable broadband to rural areas in India by partnering with ISP’s and small entrepreneurs. The Express WiFi service currently allows users to purchase affordable, reliable and fast internet plans from the local ISPs.
An internet.org post by Facebook reads,
Express Wifi 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.
India is Facebook’s second-largest market followed by the US with over 142 million Facebook users, a majority of which access Facebook via mobile. Free Basics by Facebook, which offers free mobile internet access to selected websites, suffered a huge setback in January when it was banned by India’s telecom regulator.