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Facebook Testing New Wi-Fi Service in India

Facebook are making another attempt at offering better internet in rural India. This time, it's a program known as Express Wifi that allows phone owners in India to buy data from local internet service providers and then access the internet via public WiFi hot spots. Their hotspots won't be everywhere so users may not have access to the internet from their own homes but this is still an improvement.

After the Free Basics plan was banned in India due to users not being able to access many websites other than Facebook, making it impossible for any Indian social networks to compete, it was obvious that they needed to find another way to make the internet more accessible. Users don't want to be limited to what they have access to but they also don't want to pay too much. This new plan does require people to pay for the data but it means that users aren't being offered the internet and then are just being told that you can only use these sites, which is what angered users before.

Trying to provide the internet to poorer and rural places is an admirable thing and if they were going to offer it, they did need to guarantee that they'd get their money back as these free users would access their services, but what they did went against net neutrality. The problem is that what Facebook had in place was a zero rating, which is something many networks uses to push their own services. Surely if other providers have one, it's not against the rules? The Open Internet Order in the US cannot decide whether Free Basics does go against Net Neutrality or not but it's obviously not going to be an easy ride.

The pilot test to see whether Express WiFi could work has been done but Facebook is still in the early stages with testing. It's hard to say when this could fully roll out because we don't even know whether users are going to like it or not. There's even the possibility that Facebook would pull the plug if not enough people were accessing Facebook through it. This does seem a little unlikely as it would go against why they're claiming to do this and now the internet isn't a free offering, they still stand to make money whether people use Facebook or not. The fact is whether they like to admit it or not, Facebook are doing this to grow their user base, but you have to hope that maybe this could actually do some good.

Rosina is a Songbird writer with a degree in Creative Writing. She's trying to focus on her novel on the side but is glad to be playing around with apps and writing about them in the mean time! Follow her @Songbird_Rosina

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Facebook Testing New Wi-Fi Service in India Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, August 12, 2016 Rating: 5
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