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Facebook to become an ISP In India?

The social network inked a bandwidth deal with BSNL

Facebook plans to start offering Internet services in rural areas across India after signing an agreement with Indian state-run telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.

Under the agreement, the U.S.-based social network acquired bandwidth from BSNL to provide Internet access in 125 rural areas of India for a three-year period, according to The Business Standard. Consumers will be able to access Internet services through Wi-Fi hot spots, which are being deployed by BSNL’s partner QuadGen across these rural locations. The Wi-Fi services run on the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum band and are said to offer speeds up to 2 megabits per second.

Facebook plans to offer Wi-Fi-enabled broadband services under its initiative Express Wi-Fi, which is currently in beta phase.

“Scaling this solution (Express Wi-Fi) will offer benefits to India, including providing a new base of small businesses and accelerating the spread of affordable Internet access, which will have economic and social benefits across the country,” Facebook India’s connectivity solutions manager Said Munish Seth said.

Facebook has already partnered with Indian telecom operator Reliance Communications to offer Free Basics, which offers users access to certain websites without incurring data charges. However, Indian telecom services regulator Trai ordered Reliance to stop offering the service due to the lack of regulatory approval. According to local press reports, the service is likely to gain approval this month.

Both Free Basics and Express Wi-Fi are part of Internet.org, through which Facebook is trying to connect unconnected populations in certain emerging markets.

XL Axiata receives offers to buy mobile towers

In other APAC news, Indonesian telecom operator XL Axiata received several offers to acquire part of the firm’s mobile telecom towers. Some of the potential buyers are said to include Tower Bersama Infrastructure and Inti Bangun Sejahtera.

XL Axiata is looking to sell approximately 2,000 to 2,500 towers to pay down debt, according to local press reports. The Indonesian operator currently has 6,500 towers across the country.

XL Axiata initially launched LTE services in the country in 2014 using spectrum in the 900 MHz band. In November 2015, the telco commercially launched LTE services in the capital Jakarta. The company is controlled by the Axiata Group, which also owns mobile operations in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Singapore.

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