Even as the central government is busy working on creating Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, Facebook is also entering the scene and will offer local hotspots via an app that can be downloaded from Google Play Store.
This would be a paid service and the focus will be on developing countries where internet penetration is still poor and even with these countries the most underserved territories will be chosen to offer this service.
Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi is already available in countries like Kenya and Indonesia. The service tries to make it easier for mobile phone users to get connected to the internet more easily, at affordable cost and at decent speeds.
The users can avoid buying more expensive data packs from the telecom operators. They need to only download and install the app and they are good to go. In India, Facebook offers this service in the states of Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Meghalaya.
There are around 700 such local hotspots in these 4 states. However, the change now is the users need not go to the operator’s site using the browser to configure the settings. In the new avatar, the app in Google Play Store can be directly installed and the service availed. The app is called Express Wi-Fi.
It may be worth recalling that Facebook had already attempted a free service called Free Basics, but its proposal was struck down by the regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, as being not in compliance with the net neutrality regime.
The present paid version of Wi-Fi connectivity allows full access to the internet.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is also proposing to create Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, which will be modeled on the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). It is in the process of preparing a report on this and submit it to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for its consideration.