Facebook and Bharti Airtel have joined hands to bring millions of Indians online with Express WiFi, a network with estimation of around 20,000 hotspots. This program has been created with 500 local businesses and establishments in the stares of Meghalaya, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. Facebook has already installed 700 hotspots with more to follow in the coming months.
The access costs will be decided by the partners rather than Facebook as they know more about the Indian market. There are rumors that for 100 MB of data, 10 INR and for 20 GB of data, 500 INR will be charged per day. We have to await to confirm the pricing though. Express WiFi is currently live in other countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Indonesia and Nigeria.
This will surely bring more and more people access to the internet, especially in the backward regions of the aforementioned states. Facebook is reportedly providing the software bundles for entrepreneurs along with data analytics and in some cases, even funds. The internet service provider (ISP) will be left to the choice of the entrepreneur.
Munish Seth the head of connectivity solutions at Facebook’s Asia Pacific region said that Facebook will recommend the list of ISP’s that pass their pre-requisite tests and the speed of Wi-Fi has to be around 10 mbps to qualify. The person has to buy a data voucher to use it like any prepaid voucher. This will reduce the need if 4G devices. We have to wait and see how Reliance Jio, the company which triggered the 4G movement in India responds to this.