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Facebook currently testing Express Wi-Fi in India just months after Free Basics rejected

Facebook is launching a new scheme to bring cheap internet access to rural India, just months after net neutrality protestors blocked the company’s plan to provide free internet to millions in the country.

The company is currently testing Express Wi-Fi in India. The service, according to Facebook, will allow people to buy fast, reliable and affordable data packages without shelling out hundreds of rupees each month.

In January, India’s telecoms regulator rejected Facebook’s Free Basics program after more than a million people registered complaints abut the plan, which would have given free access to specific websites chosen by Facebook. 




Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of major Indian cities demanding Free Basics be barred because it would give prominence to certain websites and news sources. They claimed it would also grant Facebook unchallenged control over the information.

Now, many of those who campaigned against Free Basics are celebrating Facebook’s latest venture. Kiran Jonnalagadda, one of the co-founders of the net neutrality activist group Save the Internet, said that the new model could transform rural India.


Facebook still has ambitions to bring Free Basics to India. In an interview with the Verge, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would make another effort to bring the service to India once it was successfully rolled out in other parts of the world.  

Now it seems the company also has plans to bring this service to railway stations and rural regions. The world's largest social media network is in talks with RailTel to provide internet services at railway stations, RailTel chairman RK Bahuguna told Economic Times. Bahuguna added that they have asked Facebook to bring connectivity to smaller railway stations and rural areas in their vicinity. 




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