The latest rage in the technological world is the new attempt by Facebook called Facebook Express WiFi, which as the name suggests does just that – aims to bring extremely fast and quick high-speed WiFi service. Sounds really great, but then, what’s the catch? Well, remember how sometime back Facebook was all over the news for their Free Basics plan? Where they made tall claims of providing “free internet” to millions of Indians but then, the “free” part of it was restricted to Facebook and some other partner sites. It caused a huge furore in India and everyone claimed that it violated Net neutrality in the country, something for which a whole lot of Indians were fighting. But then, nearly a year later, Facebook has come up with their Facebook Express WiFi Service in India. Is it any different from Facebook Free Basics?
Well, yes. To begin with, although it is a part of Facebook’s Internet.org, Facebook Express WiFi is not like their Free Basics. The very simple and basic concept or premise of Facebook Express WiFi is providing access to high-speed internet to even the rural pockets of the country and attempting to being everyone online. For this, they have partnered with all leading operators. However, not too many details about Facebook Express WiFi are known as of yet but it has one major point of difference and that is – it will not be free. Facebook will be charging a small amount to users for accessing Facebook Express WiFi but it will also enable them to get a taste of internet and understand how net works. They can connect to Facebook Express WiFi using any of their devices but then they will have to shell out a minimum amount for the same.
The target for Facebook Express WiFi is rural India where internet connectivity is the lowest. people in multiple Indian cities and pockets still don’t have access to even smartphones and prefer to buy feature devices. Internet for them is a unknown terrain. By bringing Facebook Express WiFi to these rural pockets. Facebook will not only help in giving them knowledge about the net and how it can be used but also connect them online. However, it is not clear as of now which regions in India will be able to access Facebook Express WiFi and also, what is the cost of this offer. Will it be different in different regions or will it be the same? Another thing Facebook hasn’t answered is whether this new Facebook Express WiFi will also work on the Free Basics model where users can access only certain Facebook approved sites or all sites. However, as this is a paid model, chances of it being restricted to just a few sites are slim. Whatsapp to soon launch Snapchat stories feature along with new status update tab!
Facebook is also aiming to change the way entrepreneurs work through this model too as local entrepreneurs will get access to a larger audience and they can reach out to them and sell their products. So far, the WiFi connectivity in the country has been terribly poor and internet giants have been trying to improve the situation in the country. Google in the past had rolled out internet bicycles in villages to teach the villagers and women all about internet. The bicycles came equipped with WiFi. Google also provided gadgets to these folk to help them understand the system better. Though Facebook’s system is a slightly more advanced model where the user will be paying to learn, it might also be more sustainable in the long run. Facebook also plans to get Facebook Express WiFi to public places in the country though that plan is only in the offing and sometime away. Whatsapp Video Calling and 5 new features Whatsapp has that made us fall in love with the app all over again!
There is still no clarity from Facebook and Facebook Express WiFi is linked to Facebook’s Internet.org or Free Basics page which gives just a gist of it. Here’s what they say:
Express Wifi by Facebook
With Express Wifi, we’re working with carriers, internet service providers, and local entrepreneurs to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world. We’re currently live in India, and are expanding to other regions soon.
Empowering local entrepreneurs
Express Wifi empowers local entrepreneurs to help provide quality internet access to their neighbors and make a steady income. Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they’re able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities.
Better internet for everyone
When people are able to purchase fast, affordable and reliable internet, they’re able to explore the range of information it has to offer including news, education, health, job postings, entertainment, and communication tools like Facebook.
So there’s that’s what Facebook Express WiFi is all about. For now, it definitely looks at step in the right direction but till that cloak doesn’t come off and things don’t get clearer, we’re still skeptical Facebook, considering your botched past with Free Basics.