Express Wi-Fi : Facebook’s attempt to bring millions of Indians to Internet and create a rival to Google

Facebook is reportedly testing its free Wi-Fi service called Express Wi-Fi in remote areas in India. Express Wi-Fi is Facebook’s latest ‘noble’ attempt to bring millions of Indians to Internet and more specifically to Facebook.

Facebook had earlier tried to circumvent the net neutrality laws by introducing a service called ‘Free Basics’ with a aim of providing free Internet (read Facebook) to Indian. Free Basics created a huge public outcry both in India and aboard forcing the Government of India to ban it.

Now with Express Wi-Fi, Facebook is again attempting to bring millions of Indians to its social networking under the garb of providing free Internet. However, unlike Free Basics that violated principles of net neutrality and left us with a sour taste, Express Wi-Fi may succeed if it is really kept transparent and free.

Facebook has teamed up with ISPs and entrepreneurs by providing software that will help them provide Internet service in the rural areas that can then be accessed via public Wi-Fi hotsposts.

Express Wi-Fi already had a trial with Indian state owned BSNL with about 125 rural Wi-Fi hotspots.

However, Facebook faces a stiff competition from Google which already has made a headway into India by starting to offer free Wi-Fi to Indian railway stations. At the last count, two million Indians were using Google’s free Wi-Fi service at 23 rail stations. Google aims to connect about 10 million Indians to this service by this year-end. The company also has plans to increase this number to 400 stations in the country.

If it is not about forcing Facebook down the Indians throat, Express Wi-Fi great news for India.