After Internet.org, and then later renamed to Free Basics, social networking giant Facebook is now testing a new model "Express Wifi" for public Wi-Fi deployments for offering quality internet access in rural locations of the country, with 125 locations to begin with.
Express Wifi would enable people to connect their phones or even computers and other smart devices to the Internet without spending too much.
According to Facebook’s Internet.org page, the company’s “Express Wifi” is live in India. It empowers local entrepreneurs to help provide quality Internet access to their neighbours and make a steady income."
“Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they are able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities,” it further said.
Facebook is experimenting with products like laser drones to enhance internet connectivity for users across the world. “This solution empowers ISPs, operators and local entrepreneur retailers to offer quality Internet access to their village, town or region,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Express Wi-Fi by Facebook isn't free Internet and customers can purchase fast, reliable and affordable data packs via digital vouchers to access the Internet on the Express Wi-Fi network.
However Facebook has not shared the rates it is charging for Express Wifi, only said that it is a "sustainable model".
“We focus on building a sustainable economic model for all stakeholders involved, so that local retailer entrepreneurs, ISPs, operators and Facebook can continue to invest in and operate lasting connectivity. We believe a sustainable economic model is the one which can scale to bring all of India online,” the spokesperson said.
Internet.org, which was later rebranded as Free Basics — aimed at providing basic Internet access to people in partnership with telecom operators barred by telecom regulator TRAI from charging discriminatory rates for Internet access based on content.