Facebook kicks off low-cost internet in Kenya
Global technology firm Facebook has commenced the supply of low-cost internet access in Kenya through its Express Wifi solution – one of the initiatives piloted by the firm’s Internet.org partnership.
Working with Kenyan-based internet service provider, Surf, the tech giant is scheduled has rolled out its service to Ong’ata Rongai, Mlolongo, Limuru, Kitengela, Kiambu and a few other locations on the outskirts of Nairobi.
A daily 40 megabyte (MB) data bundle goes for Ksh.10 – a relatively low price compared to Safaricom’s 15mb for the same price. Airtel subscribers pay Ksh.20 for a daily 50MB bundle, while those on Orange part with Ksh.19 for 40MB.
When contacted by Citizen Digital, the company’s leadership stated that they are rolling out the project in partnership with Access Kenya.
The firm, whose parent company is United States based startup Boelist Investments LTD, declined to respond to questions about their roll-out plan in the country ahead of their launch which is scheduled for later this quarter.
However sources privy to the Express Wifi rollout plan confirmed that the company has already switched on Wifi spots in Ong’ata Rongai, Mlolongo, Limuru, Kitengela and Kiambu with plans for a more expansive rollout in the pipeline.
Explaining that the major difference between internet access offered by telecos and Express Wifi is that one can only use their bundles within a particular “Surfspot”, the source further stated that the company has recruited agents in the active regions.
Founded in 2013 when Facebook partnered with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm with the aim of connecting “the next billion” to the internet, Internet.org has launched rolled projects in over 60 countries across the globe.
The non-profit firm states that the core aim of Express Wifi is to connect people to opportunities available online.
“When people are able to purchase fast, affordable and reliable internet, they’re able to explore the range of information it has to offer including news, education, health, job postings, entertainment, and communication tools like Facebook,” reads a statement on their website.
Kenya is the third country in the third country in Africa to roll out Express Wifi, after Nigeria and Uganda.
The low-cost internet service was piloted in India in 2016, after Internet.org’s primary initiative Free Basics, which was launched in 2015, came under fire for practices were deemed “restrictive” by a section of India’s government as it offered access to select applications and websites.