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Facebook’s new Wi-Fi initiative promises net neutrality in India

Facebook appears to be heeding India's calls for net neutrality.


April Siese


Posted on Aug 20, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 5:29 am CDT

Following an unsuccessful bid to get its Free Basics Wi-Fi to underserved regions in India, Facebook has returned to the country with a new initiative.

Express Wi-Fi promises net neutrality at a discounted price, marking a major change from Free Basics’s limited browsing abilities. This follows a move by Google to bring free Wi-Fi to 100 train stations in India by the end of this year.

Under Free Basics, users would only be able to access certain sites chosen by the company though the service would come at no cost. This “basic” access is what prompted hundreds of complaints and culminated in a ruling by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to effectively ban such services.

With Express Wi-Fi, however, Facebook is reportedly offering affordable plans that don’t put such limits on customers. According to Mashable, net neutrality activists have lauded Facebook for its latest plans.

“We welcome Facebook’s initiative to expand internet access in India by providing neutral access without discrimination on what sites a user may visit. We are glad to see that Facebook has learnt from their earlier mistakes and responded positively,” Save the Internet co-founder Kiran Jonnalagadda told Mashable.

Oddly, Facebook claims that it is still looking to roll out Free Basics in India despite the ruling. The service is currently available in 42 countries, over half of which are in Africa. At the beginning of this month, the company signed up half the continent’s population for Free Basics. It’s unclear what impact the service has made in communities.

H/T Mashable

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*First Published: Aug 20, 2016, 2:40 pm CDT