Old Wine In New Bottle?
What Is Express WiFi?
Facebook refused to comment on BloombergQuint’s query on how different this project is from Free Basics. Instead, a Facebook spokesperson said on email, “Currently, we are working with ISP and operator partners to test Express Wi-Fi with public Wi-Fi deployments in multiple pilot sites. This solution empowers ISPs, operators, and local entrepreneur retailers to offer quality internet access to their village, town or region.”
It’s unclear though, whether the company would offer full internet access or access to only a select few sites.
Is It Free?
The company believes a sustainable economic model is one which can scale to bring all of India online, he added.
So, it seems like Express WiFi is a whole different creature considering that it’s a paid service and Facebook will only provide its technology for last mile connectivity. For high speed internet, the company will work with local internet service providers.
Facebook Is Not Alone
The tech giant has been working with the Indian Railways and RailTel to bring high-speed WiFi to 100 of the busiest stations in India before the end of this year. It will eventually expand this scheme to cover an additional 300 stations. According to Sundar Pichai of Google, the public WiFi project will be the largest in the country and based on the number of potential users, it will be amongst the largest in the world.
That’s not all. Earlier this year, Google announced a new platform, Google Station, which will take public WiFi to places like schools, malls, and restaurants to improve connectivity.
Google Inc. In Partnership With Indian Railways And RailTel Corp. Of India Launch High Speed WIFI At Central Station Passengers stand under a banner advertising, “Fast WI-FI, for everybody”, at Mumbai Central railway station in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)