The first time Facebook attempted to make its free internet service available in India, it failed woefully as the government said no. The social media giant probably went back to the drawing board and came up with something slightly different and more appealing to the government. This time it paid off—Facebook is bringing Express Wi-Fi to India!
Call it rebranding, and you won’t be wrong; what Facebook has done is to reshape the whole project. This time around, the company is carrying everyone along, including mobile operators, internet service providers and local entrepreneurs.
Facebook has been testing Express Wi-Fi for a while, and seems to be making a clear headway. Aside from India, the social media behemoth is also planning to expand the service to other regions. In a statement made available on the Express Wi-Fi website, Facebook said:
“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.”
Getting local entrepreneurs involved is a smart move by Facebook. Local entrepreneurs for instance will be saved the burden of investing heavily on equipment since the social media company will be largely responsible for putting certain things in place. It will also boost the confidence of the government and remove every iota of doubt about Facebook’s real intention. That aside, local business owners will also receive further boost to invest and explore areas that are yet to be tapped in their local communities.
Perhaps, more important is the fact that more people in India will now be able to access affordable internet services. India remains one of the largest market in the world, but accessibility to the internet is not as affordable as in other countries of the world. Facebook understands the importance of providing easy access to these people [Indians], and has taken one of the biggest steps in its drive to get more users on board. Of course, the picture is to be able to reach out to more people with ads, and drive its revenue base.
Being able to penetrate India will for a long time remain one of Facebook’s biggest achievements in 2016. However, a few gray areas need to be address in order to keep carry every stakeholder along. Information on the Express Wi-Fi website is pretty vague at the moment. Apparently, nothing much has been given away by Facebook in terms of information to help us out.
Vital information such as test locations, tariff, and implementation were not made available. Such information should not have been kept away from the website for instance, and should have been made available to members of the public. Like I rightly mentioned earlier, Express Wi-Fi is a rebrand of an earlier free internet service offered to Indians by Facebook a while ago.
Zuckerberg was in Nigeria a couple of months ago to launch Express Wi-Fi; and may have been encouraged by the country’s population, which is about the biggest in Africa. The company signed an agreement with a local internet service provider called Coollinks to provide the service to Nigerians.