Facebook has gone rural, apparently, targeting markets like India’s rural areas. The social media giant was faced with the massive opposition over the plan to bring parts of the internet to rural areas.
Now it has a new plan, which is supposed to bring people online for the first time. The plan is named Express Wi-Fi and it allows local entrepreneurs and internet providers to sell data to users so it makes the overall price of the internet connection cheaper than normal data packages.
Facebook created a special initiative to back up its plan. The initiative is called Internet.org and it aims to provide internet access and the benefits which come with it to the two-thirds of the world which do not have internet access.
Even though it was well intentioned, the first version of the service ran into heavy criticism. This was because it did not give its users access to the entire internet, just a selected choice. Critics accused Facebook of building a “wall” or even labeled it “digital colonialism”.
India banned the “Free basics” service in February 2016, because it violated the neutrality of data transfer. This happened in spite of heavy lobbying from Facebook, in support of the initiative.
The new program, called Express Wi-Fi will probably have better outcomes. This gives users access to the entire internet, not just selected pre-approved sites. Tests are currently being done with the new program and it is available at some 125 “rural hotspots.” Facebook forged a partnership with a state-run telecom.
Facebook released a press release through the Internet.org organization. It stated that with Express Wifi, local initiative will be empowered and supported to offer high-quality internet access to the neighbors and achieve a steady income, at the same time. Working with telecoms or internet providers, they will use software from Facebook to connect their communities.
People will then be able to explore the affordable internet. They will get all the benefits it has to offer, including news, jobs, entertainment, education, health information and social media tools like Facebook.
However, Facebook is a lot behind Google, which started offering broadband internet at 23 Indian train stations and Its goal is to have 10 million users a day, by the end of 2016.
India is considered a huge market for internet and smartphone services. Google and Facebook are competing to connect over 1 billion internet users.
Image Source – Wikipedia