Facebook says one of its new internet proliferation projects is up and running in India, a country of 1.2 billion people.
The “Express Wifi” is part of the social media company’s grander plans to grant Internet access to more remote parts of the world.
“We’re working with carriers, internet service providers, and local entrepreneurs to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world,” reads an official description posted on Facebook’s “Internet.org” website. “We’re currently live in India, and are expanding to other regions soon.”
The company did not say what specific parts of India can use the new service, which will not be free.
“When people are able to purchase fast, affordable and reliable internet, they’re able to explore the range of information it has to offer including news, education, health, job postings, entertainment, and communication tools like Facebook,” the Internet.org report says.
The program was first tested in 2015 for rural parts of India.
The country originally denied a separate Facebook initiative called the Free Basics program, which would give complimentary access to the internet. Citizens were highly skeptical because it would have allowed people only a limited amount of access to the internet, according to CNET.
Regulators in India blocked the initiative in February after considering people’s concerns that it was not congruent with net neutrality since it restricted the full scope of the internet.
“Denying world’s poorest free partial internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong,” Marc Andreessen, a board member for Facebook and powerful tech entrepreneur, said on Twitter.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?” Andreessen said, criticizing India’s choice to turn down Free Basics.
Following a huge backlash, Facebook officially condemned those remarks and Andreessen apologized. (He has since purged almost all of his past tweets).
The tech giant’s project in India is part of a more comprehensive plan to provide Internet accessibility to more desolate and underdeveloped parts of the world.
“Over the last year Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in October 2015.
“To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies.”
Some of these technologies include Aquila, Facebook’s internet-supplying drone, which crashed during its first test flight June 28 in Arizona, and AMOS-6, a satellite that was destroyed after Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket exploded. (RELATED: Facebook Looks To Cure ‘All Diseases,’ Bring Internet To Everyone)
Despite these apparent setbacks, Zuckerberg is not worried about his ambitious endeavors.
“We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook after hearing the news of his satellite.
Facebook isn’t the only tech company to organize Internet ventures in India.
As of mid-October, Google supplied free WiFi service at 23 railway stations across India, reports The Economic Times.
But people were using the complimentary utility for relatively salacious reasons. (RELATED: De Blasio Disables Free WiFi At Kiosks After Hobos Caught Masturbating To Porn)
“More than anything, porn sites have been watched and downloaded by the people at Patna railway station” officials from RailTel, an Indian state-sponsored telecommunications company, told The Economic Times.
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