Facebook offers Express WiFi for developing countries
Facebook is venturing into the ISP business with Express Wi-Fi. This app provides users in developing countries to buy data packs that can be used at hotspots. The app is being used in five developing countries. The hot spots are managed by local business owners, and Facebook hopes that it can provide an alternative to the slow data plans offered by cellular companies.
Express Wi-Fi isn’t completely new, but Facebook’s Play Store App offers important improvements over the first version. For starters, it’s available on the Play Store, which makes it a lot easier to access, plus it no longer requires users to reconfigure their devices.
The Express WiFi app offers for users to find various hot spots nearby.
Facebook has tried something like this in the past with Free Basics, but that option was not popular as it only provided a handful of Facebook-approved services, rather than actual internet service.
The app marks a major move to expand Facebook’s market into the developing world, where lack of quality internet can make social media sites difficult to use.
This comes at a time when Facebook is nearly omnipresent in developed nations. In Q4, Facebook saw its U.S. and Canadian user base decline by 700,000. This was, in part, due to Newsfeed changes, which no longer emphasized viral videos as much.
In order to sustain itself, the company needs to find new users and the developed world may be nearly tapped out. This is partially why Facebook has embarked on a number of initiatives meant to provide developing countries with cheap access to the internet. This will help the organization to expand user base and reach more penetration in the areas with low social media activity.
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