Social networking site Facebook has offered to create 100 Wi-Fi hotspots for state-run telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in rural India. Under the agreement, Facebook will buy bandwidth from BSNL by investing Rs5 lack each year per hotspot.
The hotspots are being set up by BSNL selected vendor Quad Zen while Trimax will provide infrastructure and deploy fibre. They will also handle sales and share revenue with BSNL.
Facebook, which is sponsoring the Wi-Fi hotspots, will not be taking any revenue share. It plans to rollout the Wi-Fi by 31 December this year.
These 100 Wi-Fi spots to be sponsored by Facebook are in addition to 2,500 Wi-Fi spots that BSNL is setting up in partnership with Quad Zen and Trimax.
These include 2,000 Wi-Fi hotspots that, Quad Zen will set up under commercial model in Western and Southern part of the country and the 500 hotspots that Trimax will set up in North India.
The Wi-Fi hotspots will offer free internet to consumers for the first half an hour. However, it's not clear how much consumers will be charged past the free period.
The network will be capable of handling an average of 2,000 connected devices at the same time.
As of now, the Wi-Fi facility is available in 25 villages under the pilot programme in southern and western India.
The agreement between Facebook and BSNL is for three years and it can be further extended for two more years.
Meanwhile, BSNL has also received interest from members of Parliament for setting up Wi-Fi hotspots in villages, which they have adopted under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) to make it a model village by 2016.
BSNL had approached MPs explaining this model under MPLAD scheme and over 50 MPs have responded positively to it.
The move will boost government's ambitious 'Digital India' drive.