After the failure of Free Basics, seems Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in no mood to give up on his dream of connecting Indians to the Internet.

In a clever effort to expand its user base in India, Facebook has begun testing wi-fi services in collaboration with local telecom companies and Indian ISPs. The company confirmed that it’s in the early stages of testing the wi-fi service, called ‘Express Wi-fi‘ in India. 

A pilot version of the project is already active in about 125 rural hotspots. 

b’Facebook | Representational Image | Reuters’

With Express Wi-fi, users can buy wifi from local Internet Service Providers. More simply put, with it, users would be able to surf the net on the local providers’ data. The idea is to push internet coverage in India, especially rural India, a potentially large and mostly untapped market for the social media giant. 

Instead of offering free but limited data, as Net Neutrality proposed, Express Wi-fi takes on a more infrastructural approach, and though it is not free, it might work out very well in remote areas, and is also not in violation of net neutrality. 

Analyst Ian Fogg of IHS Technology told the BBC

“In emerging economies, Facebook is pursuing an intervention strategy to increase the pace of internet and online usage because this will also raise the addressable market for Facebook,” 

This is not the first time that Facebook has tried to push internet accessibility in India. In 2013, Facbook launched a tie up between some companies who would provide internet.

b’Mark Zuckerberg | File Photo | Source: Reuters’

More recently, Facebook tried to introduce Free Basics to India, though the Telecom Authority Of India rejected the proposal since it was against the tenets of net neutrality. (Surfing certain listed sites such as would be free, but others will not be)

After the rejection of Free Basics, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said in a statement: “ has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet.”

Seems he is living up to his promises!

(Feature Image Source: Reuters)