Facebook is looking to team up with Indian Railways to supply Wi-Fi connectivity to rural areas going by a new report. If true, this will mark the third attempt by the social networking major to provide internet access in India after the now-defunct Free Basics and Express WiFi.
Notably, Google had previously partnered with RailTel, Indian Railways’ communication branch, earlier this year to beam out Wi-Fi at stations all over the country. It’s managed to spread its wings at over 21 pitstops so far, covering over 2 million people. The search giant’s ultimate mission is to have a presence in 400 locations.
It now appears that Facebook is trying to follow in Google’s footsteps with its own railways-based Wi-Fi initiative. The company hasn’t officially announced anything about the project yet. However, RailTel chairman RK Bahuguna told the Economic Times that the brand’s India offshoot had approached it for the Wi-Fi proposal.
He went on to claim that RailTel is planning to engage with Facebook for the expansion of its internet access program across train stations to cover nearby villages in the vicinity. This is where the latter’s scheme could distinguish itself from Google’s, since the former wants to bring online access to smaller rail stops.
The move would effectively make internet connectivity available in neighboring villages as well. According to Bahugana, the Wi-Fi network’s reach will be up to a 10km radius from a connected rail stop. This number can be raised up to 25km through additional access points.
Facebook’s ongoing Express WiFi plan concentrates on far-flung rural areas too. It’s also working on solar-powered laser drones and its OpenCellular program to further this agenda on an international scale.