Today, we are excited to unveil a new partner ecosystem program called Express Wi-Fi Certified, which allows access point manufacturers to build Wi-Fi hardware that’s compatible with Express Wi-Fi, enabling more people in more places to get connected. We are starting with Arista Networks, Cambium Networks, and Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS Company, our initial Certified partners. With these new access points, we can enhance people’s experiences, improve service quality, and make it easier for operator partners to set up and manage hotspots.
Partnering for better connectivity
In late 2015, we began testing Express Wi-Fi, a program that enables local entrepreneurs, internet service providers, and mobile network operators to offer fast, affordable internet access in local communities around the world. We partner with licensed local internet service providers, mobile network operators, and others to provide Wi-Fi services. Today, Express Wi-Fi is available with 10 partners in five countries — India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
People typically access Express Wi-Fi hotspots by signing up with a participating retailer and purchasing a prepaid data pack. Using Express Wi-Fi hotspots, our partners can easily expand their services and provide faster, more affordable connectivity to rural and urban areas.
We developed the Express Wi-Fi Certified program to address access point limitation issues in the field with operators and entrepreneurs. In addition to these partnerships, we started working closely with manufacturers to build better Wi-Fi access points. These new access points help devices better detect the registration pages, which helps more people successfully connect to Wi-Fi networks. They also more accurately account for the amount of Wi-Fi data consumed. These capabilities make it simpler to use a prepaid model, which is more intuitive for people already using mobile devices. The new access points are also able to account for different traffic classes, which allows Wi-Fi service providers to offer consumers a more diverse set of services (such as offering certain services or content for free while charging for others). By working together, we enable Wi-Fi when and where it’s needed and improve people’s experiences with it. This also enables better compatibility with Express Wi-Fi services while allowing for a more scalable network by better utilizing the access points’ capacity. Thanks to these efforts, Express Wi-Fi Certified access points allow service providers to offer better connectivity experiences to shops and businesses run by local entrepreneurs.
What is an Express Wi-Fi Certified access point?
In order to work with Express Wi-Fi software, individual hotspots must be able to perform two key tasks: authenticate people who want to use a hotspot and account for the Wi-Fi data they use. Using industry-standard technology for accounting and authentication, Express Wi-Fi hotspots ensure that the service remains fast and reliable as it scales. With more processing occurring locally at the access point, operator partners require fewer central servers to handle authentication and accounting requests.
For communities with limited connectivity, such as those that are backhaul-constrained, pushing this functionality to the access point — rather than to a central server — means that each access point is doing a small amount of processing rather than all of it sitting in a potential bottleneck at the central server. This method saves time and data and requires less work from our operator partners to reconfigure internal systems as they deploy more access points.
Enabling our partners to increase their deployment scale and efficiency of hotspots means Express Wi-Fi can get more people connected. We are excited to continue working with the industry to provide a sustainable business model for fast and affordable Wi-Fi. By expanding the Express Wi-Fi ecosystem, we make it easier for entrepreneurs to partner with local operators to offer internet access in their communities.
To learn more about the Express Wi-Fi Certified program, visit connectivity.fb.com.