Facebook launches 20,000 Wifi hotspots with Bharti Airtel

James Pearce
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Social media giant Facebook has partnered with Bharti to launch its Express Wifi service in India

Facebook has partnered with Bharti Airtel to launch 20,000 Wifi hotspots across India as part of its Express Wifi service.

The social media giant claims the service will offer fast, reliable and affordable internet to people in India as part of the deployment with Indian operator Airtel.

Facebook began trialling Express Wi-Fi in 2015, with the service now set to launch. It is worked with more than 500 retailers and three other internet service providers to make the service available across four states, deploying 700 hotspots in Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Meghalaya.

It already offers Express Wifi in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Indonesia, as Facebook looks to connect areas with little or no internet access as part of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project.

“Express Wifi empowers local operators, ISPs and entrepreneurs to offer a fast, reliable and affordable internet service,” explained Facebook head of connectivity solutions Munish Seth in a social media post.

“It is targeted for underserved communities. One of the key thigs for scale and to expand is sustainability – our journey over the last year and a half confirms that we have a business model that is sustainable. Now we’re expanding that with Bharti Airtel.”

The service will offer a minimum speed of 10Mbps according to reports from India. 

The launch comes after Indian regulators moved to block a Facebook launch of free internet as part of an agreement Reliance Communications.  Facebook sought to roll out its Free Basics package in 2016, but Trai ruled it would be in breach of net neutrality rules.