Facebook’s attempts to reach the almost 4 billion people worldwide who do not have Internet access, continue with the company sharing the news that it intends to expand Express WiFi, a solution that helps communities pay for Internet service where there would not normally be one.
Facebook is aware that it currently works in a relatively saturated market and if it is to continue to grow, it needs to find new resources to tap. The huge number of people who do not yet have Internet access is a great way of doing exactly that.
Facebook has confirmed that it is working on software that would allow it to manage networks more easily while allowing operators to deploy new mesh WiFi networks. While this is taking place in Boston, similar work in California is trying to create a new routing framework that would make WiFi mesh networks larger scale, with up to 50 access points involved.
After initially launching in India, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Indonesia in 2016, Express WiFi currently has a new pilot program underway in Tanzania where a new mesh WiFi technology is being tested.
Work on that technology continues un a number of countries although Tanzania is the only one where live trials are being run. Speaking with The Verge, Facebook said that “Right now, we’re focused on validating the technology … we’re still determining next steps.”
(Image: Javier Cardona, a Facebook engineer, plays the soprano sax near an Express Wi-Fi hotspot in Tanzania in an effort to attract people for trying out the Wi-Fi service for free)
Facebook isn’t the only company trying to get internet to corners of the world that don’t already have it. Others have been working on solutions including high-altitude aircraft and Facebook says that it intends to partner with those rather than try to follow up on one of its own failed projects called Aquila. That particular project involved using drones to deliver Internet signals.
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