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Facebook Plans Commercial Launch of Rural WiFi in India

An anonymous reader shares a report from India’s Economic Times: Social networking giant Facebook is in talks with internet service providers (ISPs) to expand its Express Wi-Fi program into a commercial launch in India, having completed a pilot roll out of 125 rural public Wi-Fi hotspots in a tie-up with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. Express Wi-Fi is a Mark Zuckerberg-headed Internet giant’s initiative aimed at taking affordable broadband to the rural areas of the country in partnerships with internet service companies and small entrepreneurs. “Facebook is investing in the development of the connectivity ecosystem by providing techno-commercial assistance to local ISP partners and entrepreneurs,” a person aware of the matter said.In a statement to Slashdot, a Facebook spokesperson said; “We are currently in the early stages of testing Express Wi-Fi with multiple local ISP partners in India.” The company, however, declined to share any update on Express Wi-Fi’s commercial launch in the country. It’s worth noting that this is Facebook’s second major attempt to capture India’s market. The company’s Free Basics, an initiative wherein Facebook offers its users access to select websites and services for free, was rejected by the local authority on the grounds of net neutrality. With Express Wi-Fi, the company doesn’t seem to be favoring any particular service, and is making access to the entire internet available for cheap price.

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