Facebook and Indian carrier Bharti Airtel have joined forces to bring millions of Indians online with 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
The program, called Express Wi-Fi, has been created in partnership with 500 local business and other establishments in the states of Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya. It has so far rolled out to 700 hotspots, with the remainder to follow in the coming months, said BuzzFeed News.
The cost of access for the Express Wi-Fi hotspots is decided by the partners, not Facebook, and they’re said to range from between Rs. 10 (~$0.15) for 100 MB and Rs. 300 (~$5) for 20 GB of data per day.
In a statement, Facebook’s head of connectivity solutions for Asia-Pacific, Munish Seth, said: “Express Wi-Fi is designed to complement mobile data offerings by providing a low-cost, high-bandwidth alternative for getting online and access apps, download and stream content.”
Almost ten percent of Facebook’s almost 2 billion users come from India, alongside 200 million WhatsApp users. It has one of the fastest growing mobile markets, so companies are naturally keen to invest there: Google has also delivered free Wi-Fi in the nation, providing it in 100 Indian railway stations, and it’s said to be expanding the service to museums, restaurants and more across the country. Google also recently released an offline-focused version of its YouTube app in India, YouTube Go.
It looks like the fierce competition in the market is going to continue to produce more interesting and varied options for consumers.