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Why Facebook is offering Wi-Fi roaming services

Posted on Wednesday, 21st March 2018

Did you catch the news a few days ago about Facebook launching a Wi-Fi app?  This was first spotted by TechCrunch on March 15th.  As they reported: "This week TechCrunch was tipped off that Facebook had quietly launched an Express Wi-Fi Android app in the Google Play store that lets users buy data packs and find nearby hotspots as part of Facebook’s distributed Wi-Fi network. The company’s Express Wi-Fi program is live in five developing countries that see local business owners operating Wi-Fi hotspots where people can pay to access higher-speed bandwidth via local telecoms instead of paying steep prices for slow cellular data connections."

Why is Facebook offering this service?  The obvious answer is there is a significant demand for low-cost internet access, not just in developing countries, but globally.  Wi-Fi offers a simple, cost-effective way to access broadband services.  We have quite a number of Operators using the Accuris Wi-Fi connection manager app (eClient) to help users easily find and connect on Wi-Fi securely.  In addition, as Passpoint networks are deployed (note our recent blogs and news of Passpoint in Spain and Mexico), no app is needed to access Wi-Fi securely.  Passpoint simplifies the on-boarding, eliminating the oft-frustrating landing pages.  That said, a Wi-Fi client/application still offers great benefits including:

  • Wi-Fi Finder Map - Users can quickly find and get directions to the closest Wi-Fi networks from their current location
  • WISPr 1+ Authentication - Millions of hotspots are not yet upgraded to support Passpoint yet and in the meantime a connection manager can handle an automatic authentication on behalf of the user, without having to create or remember a username/password
  • EAP-SIM/AKA Profiles - to leverage pre-Passpoint 802.1x networks, an app can allow an Operator to push EAP-based profiles to end users

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We will continue to see proliferation of Wi-Fi applications, like Facebook's and others, while broadband demand remains unmet and Wi-Fi networks undergo upgrading to Passpoint.  At Accuris Networks, we are proud and excited to be an integral part of the entire roadmap.

For the TechCrunch article, go to : https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/15/facebook-express-wi-fi-app/
 

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