Facebook has started testing its Express WiFi, its public WiFi service in rural areas in India. According to the company’s Internet.org website, the service is currently live in India and Facebook is “working with ISPs and carriers and local entrepreneurs” to help expand the project. The development was first reported by PTI. Express WiFi is built on basis of public partnership model wherein small entrepreneurs work with Internet service providers to provide Internet access within their neighborhoods. These entrepreneurs would make an income from the partnership and they would use software owned by Facebook to connect their communities via WiFi. A spokesperson from Facebook told MediaNama that the company is currently piloting the service in collaboration with telecom operators at many locations in the country without disclosing the areas. Users can purchase data packs through form of digital vouchers to connect to the Express WiFi network. However the spokesperson did not comment on when the service is expected go live, and the telecom companies that Facebook is partnering with for rollout. Partnership model for WiFi During MediaNama’s Open House Discussion regarding the Future of Public WiFi last month, Facebook had mentioned that the core access infrastructure such as towers, routers, physical access points would be deployed by itself under Express WiFi. Users will need to install a mobile app to register themselves onto the WiFi network. Telecom operator or ISPs would invest in network operations and maintenance, marketing and distribution, and customer support operations. Express WiFi will target rural neighborhoods of…
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