Today we’re announcing the commercial launch of Express Wi-Fi in India.
Express Wi-Fi is part of Facebook’s global initiative to spread internet connectivity. We 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.
We are also pleased to announce our partnership with Bharti Airtel to launch an additional 20,000 hotspots— allowing Express Wi-Fi to reach millions more Indians who need super-fast and affordable connectivity. These hotspots will begin to be deployed over the next few months.
Ajai Puri, chief operating officer for India and South Asia) for 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.”
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.
Our goal is to grow the number of Express Wi-Fi hotspots in India rapidly. 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.
Anyone can 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.
More connectivity helps build global communities. We can’t wait to work with our partners to continue expanding Express Wi-Fi across the world.
This post originally appeared here.