Social networking giant Facebook is in talks with Indian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to expand its Express WiFi program into a commercial launch. It has already completed a pilot roll out of 125 rural public WiFi hotspots in a tie-up with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), says a report in Economic Times.
Facebook initiated Express WiFi to offer affordable broadband in the rural areas. It does so in partnership with Internet service companies and small entrepreneurs. Though Facebook has come up a software for the rural market to enable partners to run their business, the partners are responsible to come up with a viable business model.
“We are testing Express WiFi program in India currently that allows customers to purchase fast, reliable and affordable data packages from their local ISP to access the Internet via local hotspots,” a Facebook India spokesperson said, reports Economic Times.
Facebook has been having a rough time in the country off late. Its initiative to connect the unconnected generated a Net Neutrality debate and had to be pulled out from India because of strong public opinion. However, India is an important part of Facebook’s strategy. It is one of the few countries which has a significant population of the unconnected.