Facebook’s parent company Meta is ending its Express WiFi service after 6 years. This service had started in 2016 and currently spreads across 30 countries including Nepal.
Facebook had been providing its Express WiFi service in partnership with local cellular/satellite operators, and ISPs to expand public internet access.
The purpose was to provide cheaper internet access to people who wanted to connect but had poor or no connectivity. As part of Facebook’s Connectivity push, the program intended to reach 1 billion users through this program. Now, Facebook announces it is coming to an end. This has triggered the question of the existence of service but thankfully Facebook has a plan.
Express WiFi ends with Meta shifting focus on other projects
As per Facebook, the Express WiFi will shut down later this year. But Facebook says its collaboration with local partners will continue “help minimize the impact on businesses and customer’s connectivity.”
Meta wrote that it will “focus on developing other projects” and remain committed to working with partners for better connectivity. Does this leave us to what will happen to this service in Nepal?
WorldLink to maintain the service
The express Wifi service runs in Nepal courtesy of Facebook’s partnership with WorldLink, the leading ISP in the country. As part of this project, the ISP provides its free WiFi service through over 15 thousand public spots. The company also had a plan to add 10 thousand hotspots every year to reach 30 thousand in three years. But Facebook’s abrupt announcement could trouble the service altogether.
However, WorldLink says that the service will retain its lifespan which is in line with Facebook’s own statement. “If Facebook ends its Express WiFi service, it will hand over the platform to us, or to a firm for commercial deployment, a WorldLink representative said. “Either way, we will be able to continue the service.”