Bharti Airtel, India’s leading telecom operator, has joined forces with Facebook to deploy 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in India to deliver the internet using Facebook’s Express WiFi service. Facebook said that the partnership would allow Express Wi-Fi to reach million more Indians who need super-fast and affordable connectivity.
These hotspots will begin to be deployed over the next few months, the social networking major said in a statement. Express WiFi is part of Facebook's global initiative to spread internet connectivity. It started testing Express Wi-Fi in India in 2015 and, working with internet services providers (ISPs) and over 500 local entrepreneur-retailers, have made it commercially available through nearly 700 hotspots across the four Indian states of Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Meghalaya.
Express Wi-Fi is currently live in five countries—India, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Indonesia.
Ajai Puri, Chief Operating Officer (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel said “We are delighted to be a part of this initiative to provide affordable access to high-speed data to users across India, particularly in the underserved segment. We believe this will help in empowering millions of Indians by bringing them online and contribute to the Government’s Digital India vision.”
Facebook said that 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.
“Our Express Wi-Fi partnerships empower local Indian entrepreneurs to start businesses to offer internet access to their town or region. They also help Indians connect to the internet easily and for an affordable rate,” Facebook’s regional head of Connectivity Solution said.
“Our goal is to grow the number of Express Wi-Fi hotspots in India rapidly,” he added.
India has a population of about 1.3 billion people, but according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI’s) Performance Indicator Report, only 390 million people are connected to the internet.
Facebook said that anyone could access the Express Wi-Fi network by signing up with an Express Wi-Fi retailer and purchasing a daily, weekly or monthly data pack at a rate set by our partners. They will then be able to connect to the Express Wi-Fi hotspot, register/create an account, login and start browsing or use any app on the entire internet.
In addition to our newly announced partnership with Airtel, Express Wi-Fi has been deployed in partnership with ISPs AirJaldi in Uttarakhand, LMES in Rajasthan, Tikona in Gujarat, and soon with Shaildhar in Meghalaya.