Facebook to Reboot Free Basics in India with Express Wi-fi Service

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Early this year, the Indian government banned Facebook’s Free basics initiative stating that it violates the principles of net neutrality.  Free Basics, is part of an ambitious plan by the social network to bring internet to parts of the world that do not have it.  Through it, users access basic web services such as weather reports, Wikipedia, Facebook at no cost. The grand scheme of things is to have these users enjoy these basic services which would in turn inspire them to explore the rest of the web.

In India, Free Basics faced criticism from the tech community stating that would disadvantage them in terms of users accessing their sites. Others were of the opinion that the scheme violated their privacy as developer guidelines stated websites should not include HTTPS, TLS or SSL encryption technologies.

Facebook is now looking to reboot the service in India, but under a new model and brand name. The new service called Express Wi-Fi, allows uses to purchase data from local ISP. Facebook will then offers these ISPs software that helps sell and provide internet service in rural areas, which can be accessed via public Wi-Fi hotspots. The pilot stage has so far set up 125 hot spots throughout India. Facebook is hoping that the initiative will make users not on the network already sign-up and importantly, with the number of internet users growing Facebook will likely be one of the first sites they access. The BBC reports that Facebook is engaging different ISPs for the service. The social network sees the success of India as an important launching pad for free basics and other internet.org services into most parts of the developing world.