US social networking major Facebook has partnered state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to create 100 Wi-Fi 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 chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava told ET.
“Facebook has chosen 100 villages to provide Wi-Fi hotspots on a revenuesharing model,” Shrivastava said, adding it will spend Rs 5 lakh per site a year for buying bandwidth from BSNL for a period of three years. Facebook didn’t respond to ET’s emailed questionnaire till the time of going to press.
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.