Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has revealed that it is already testing Express WiFi, a service that enables users in rural areas to have internet access by purchasing data from local internet service providers (ISPs), in India.
Facebook, in partnership with a state-run telecommunications company, has recently rolled out the initial Express WiFi version in 125 rural WiFi hotspots.
Ian Fogg, IHS Technology analyst, suggested that Facebook trusts the likelihood of people being able to access the web for the first time through its initiatives will stay on the company’s social networking platform instead of other rivals.
Fogg noted that Facebook is trying to boost internet usage and presence in emerging economies because it will also drive growth for the company’s user base.
Facebook in India
Despite this, the Indian government has always been skeptical about the internet service programs offered by Facebook, particularly Free Basics.
Earlier this year, the government has banned Free Basics, citing net neutrality as one of the main reasons leading to the decision.
Nonetheless, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, has expressed at the time his confidence that the company is still willing to work with Indian regulators in order to further penetrate the market with its innovative connectivity solutions. Hence, the launch of Express WiFi, which addresses the net neutrality issue encountered by Free Basics in January.
Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Counterpart
Meanwhile, Google is already ahead of Facebook when it comes to connectivity solutions in India. Currently, two million people in the country have access to the company’s railroad WiFi hotspots, which is available in 23 stations. Google seeks to have 10 million people accessing the service by the end of 2016. Moreover, the search engine giant is looking forward to expand the offering to about 400 stations as part of its long-term prospects.
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