Sunday, January 17, 2016

Facebook as an Internet Service Provider in India makes internet affordable to the rural dwellers

A fter facing adverse reactions over its Free Basics
initiative , Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is all set
to turn his company into an Internet Service
Provider (ISP) in India. The company has partnered
with government-owned telecom company BSNL to
set up WiFi hotspots in rural areas.
Facebook aims to provide affordable internet —
internet packs as low as Rs. 10 — to the people
living in the rural areas of country. The company
has purchased Rs. 10 crore worth bandwidth from
BSNL for a period of 3 years, according to BSNL
chairman and managing director Anupam
Shrivastava. This Internet service will be provided
with the help of BSNL’s partner QuadGen, which
will be setting up WiFi hotspots.
This cheap WiFi service will run on an unlicensed
band of 2.4GHz which will provide a speed of
about 2 megabits per second. This service will be
provided in 125 rural areas under a new
Internet.org initiative called Express WiFi.
According to Business Standard, Facebook has
made a new software to optimize the data usage
and make things simpler for rural areas. To access
the Internet, the local residents can purchase data
packages from these local hotspots.
This news earlier broke in September 2015 when
Facebook announced that it’s piloting a new
service called Express WiFi that will encourage the
local entrepreneurs to set up WiFi hotspots in
various areas. “We help them in terms of technical
solutions, business model and marketing,” said
Munish Seth, Country Manager Facebook
Connectivity Solutions India.
This partnership has come amidst Facebook CEO’s
India visit in October. Prior to that, Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi visited the Facebook HQ in
California in September.
Facebook’s first Internet.org foray in India is Free
Basics, which isn’t performing so well in the
country. The company tapped Reliance
Communications to provide free Internet services
to people that allowed them to access some basic
websites. However, the program suffered a setback
as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India put it on
hold.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg realizes the
importance of India for his company’s business.
India is home to about 130 million Facebook users
and a key market for Facebook. As a result, he is
trying hard to connect more people to the internet
— and finally to Facebook. Thus, Facebook’s
launch of crowd-pleasing services like Free Basics
and Express WiFi in its fastest growing market
makes perfect sense.
Is Facebook really trying to connect more people
to the Internet, or it’s a trick to increase its
userbase?
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