Facebook will now wear the hat of an internet service provider (ISP) in rural areas of the country with data packages as low as Rs 10, according to a report published in Business Standard.
Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook has purchased bandwidth from BSNL for a period of 3 years for Rs 10 crore for its WiFi foray, the report said.
BSNL's partner QuadGen will be setting up WiFi hotspots across the rural areas, which will run on an unlicensed band of frequency of 2.4 GHz.
The initiative Express WiFi will encourage local entrepreneurs to buy the inexpensive hardware to provide internet access to their town or region. The locals will also be able to purchase the data packages from these local hotspots, the report said.
Facebook has reportedly made the software for data usage simpler and customised for rural areas. It will also be partnering with local internet service providers to expand network access. The report said that through the initiative Facebook intends to build up of an economically sustainable and affordable ecosystem for internet access.
The tie-up came post Zuckerberg's India visit in October last year. Prior to that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also visited Facebook headquarters in the Silicon Valley in September 2015.
Facebook had earlier partnered with Reliance Communications to offer Free Basics, which enabled users to access some websites without incurring any data charges. But the programme ran into rough weather creating a furore on the issue of net neutrality. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asked the company to put it on hold till further approval.
Free Basics and Express WiFi are part of internet.org, through which Facebook is trying to connect people in the remotest parts of the world to internet.