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Express WiFi by Facebook Launched Commercially in Indian sub-continent

May 4, 2017 | By

New Delhi: Social networking giant Facebook on today announced to join hands with Bharti Airtel to deploy twenty thousand Wi-Fi hotspots across the Indian peninsula to offer affordable internet services through the former’s Express WiFi service. These hotspots will begin to be deployed over the next few months.

Both the companies are already working together to deploy fiber connectivity backhaul in Uganda, Munish Seth, regional head APAC, Facebook Connectivity Solutions, told ET that the partnership is aimed at rapidly expanding Express WiFi footprint in the subcontinent. “Airtel is already in the planning stage for this deployment.”

“Our mission is to empower people and make world open and connected. Half of the world is not connected to internet and that is a big opportunity. A major part of the world is not connected due to lack of infrastructure, lack of awareness and affordability. These are problems we need to address,” Seth said.

The executive said that Facebook is working towards empowering local entrepreneur, internet service providers and telecom operators to offer reliable and affordable service to underserved community.

“We have grown the business to become sustainable […], and believe the technology can be homogenised. We have now moved away from beta stage and are into rapidly expanding the footprint,” Seth added.

Express Wi-Fi is part of Facebook’s global initiative to spread internet connectivity. It was designed to complement mobile data offerings by providing a low-cost, high bandwidth alternative for getting online and access content.

The service is currently live in five countries—India, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia.

Facebook has begun testing Express Wi-Fi in India in 2015. It is currently working with internet services providers (ISPs) and over 500 local entrepreneur retailers in four […] states of Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Meghalaya to commercially offer Express WiFi service through 700 hotspots.

Express Wi-Fi has been deployed in partnership with ISPs AirJaldi in Uttarakhand, LMES in Rajasthan, Tikona in Gujarat, and with Shaildhar in Meghalaya, which will go live in two weeks, Seth said.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Facebook [File Photo]

“We are delighted to be a part of this initiative to provide affordable access to high speed data to users across India, particularly in the underserved segment. We believe this will help in empowering millions of [people] by bringing them online and contribute to the Government’s Digital India vision,” Ajai Puri, Chief Operating Officer (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

Facebook worked closely with OEMs and technology players to bring down the cost of infrastructure. Its Express WiFi platform also helps operators remotely manage hotspots as well as day to day operations. “Facebook Express WiFi gateway integrates with servers sitting in ISP premises and let them manage operations. It also provides business analytics on performance and traffic on site,” Seth explained.

Seth said that the Express Wi-Fi partnerships empower local entrepreneurs to start businesses to offer internet access to their town or region. They also help connect to the internet easily and for an affordable rate.

Facebook’s ISP or telco partners decide the pricing of the service, which can be availed by customers through digital vouchers. Seth said that Facebook also guides them with the help of analytics for deciding upon the pricing.

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