When it comes to BSNL, Indians don’t usually talk about India’s largest mobile carrier with much smile, they however might just get a reason to do so. The company, ailing under mounting losses, has now partnered with non other than Facebook, to set up 100 wifi hotspots in rural India, in order to further digitize the rural regions of the nation, as a part of a larger Digital India campaign.
Accroding to a report from Economic Times, Facebook will be investing around Rs. 5 crore per annum to buy the bandwidth from BSNL. This initiative also includes IT infrastructure service providers such as Quad Zen and Trimax for equipment and fibre deployment.
Qaud Zen will be responsible for equipment sourcing and sales and marketing initiatives for the south-west region while Trimax will be responsible for the northern region in an open process.
So far, about 25 villages have been covered under the pilot programme in southern and western India. The company is planning to complete the Wi-Fi rollout by the end of this year. Currently, the project is being carried out on three-years term. However, it is likely to be extended by another two years.
Consumers in these areas will be able to get free Internet connectivity for the first half an hour. The WiFi network has a capacity to allow an average of 2,000 individuals to use the service at the same time, thus pretty much serving its purpose in India’s rural.
BSNL is optimistic about its WiFi initiatives and has rolled out 450 hotspots with a focus on pan-India tourist spots. It is aiming to set up a total of 2,500 WiFi hotspots by the end of current fiscal year.
On the other hand, Facebook is working towards bringing more people on the Internet by offering free access to selected websites under its Internet.org initiative. The platform has been recently re-branded as Free Basics and has been launched in 19 countries so far.
This service could also be an immediate effect of two other things — PM Modi’s more-than-just-warm visiti to the Facebook Headquarters and Microsoft’s rollout of a similar wifi hotspot scheme within the country — an area where Facebook wishes to establish its dominance.
At the recently organized Townhall Q&A session at IIT-Delhi, providing internet access and net neutrality were the central topic for Mark Zuckerberg’s talk.