Coinciding with the visit of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, company has revealed its partnership with state owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) to create 100 WiFi hotspots in rural India to drive digital penetration in the country.
Facebook is investing Rs 5 crore per annum for buying bandwidth from BSNL in this joint initiative that also includes IT infrastructure services providers such as Quad Zen and Trimax for equipment and fibre deployment. BSNL is aiming to complete the rollout by 31 December this year.
Nearly 25 villages have been covered under the pilot programme in southern and western India so far and the project is likely to be scaled up and extended from a current three-year partnership, by another two years.
Qaud Zen will be responsible for equipment sourcing and sales and marketing initiatives for the south-west region while Trimax has been roped in for the northern region in an open process.
Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has highlighted the country's importance in the company's mission to connect the next billion to the Internet.
BSNL, has so far rolled out 450 hotspots with a focus on pan-India tourist spots, and aims to set up a total of 2,500 WiFi hotspots by the end of current fiscal year through March 2016.