Facebook’s Internet.org has launched a new service in India in a bid to connect those in currently under-served areas. Express Wifi works alongside local businesses to offer affordable access to the internet.
This isn’t the first attempt Zuckerberg has made at trying to take advantage of parts of the global population that are still offline. Facebook’s Free Basics program, born from Internet.org and originally launched in February, was effectively banned not long afterwards. Much to Mark’s dismay, regulating authorities and indeed a large proportion of protesters, were not best pleased by the restrictive nature of the app.
Free Basics would have been a wholly free-to-use (surprising, no?) internet service provided by Facebook, intended to give access to under-served areas. However, because of its nature it only allowed access to a limited number of websites. It was therefore deemed to put too much power in the hands of the social network and be opposed to principles of net neutrality.
While we remain impartial, we can certainly understand the standpoint of India’s Telecoms Regulation. Free Basics essentially took advantage of certain areas by splitting internet users into those with access and those with access to only what Facebook considers worthy. And it’s not unlike Facebook to try and remould the internet around themselves – most of their updates have been intended to limit the amount of time users are forced to spend off of the network, and they certainly don’t make it easy for their competitors.
Facebook Express Wifi
Unlike Free Basics, Express Wifi offers data packs that aren’t restricted. Because Facebook don’t get their way by choosing what users can and can’t view, it does come at a price – albeit a small price. Although we don’t know for certain what this is, the whole point is affordable access for those who currently have none, working with local ISPs, operators and retailers.