Surf and Facebook officially launched Express Wi-Fi by Facebook in Kenya today. This initiative was born from the mutual belief of both organizations that access to internet should be available and affordable for everyone. Express Wi-Fi is a fast, affordable public wi-fi hotspot service. Surf has already rolled out more than 100 Express Wi-Fi hotspots in several communities in the greater metropolitan area of Nairobi including Ongata Rongai, Limuru, Kiserian, Kitengela, Kiambu, Mlolongo, Ngong, Ruaka, Thika and Wangige. Starting this week, the Express Wi-Fi service will also be available in Kisumu and Mombasa, with many more towns to come.
Speaking at the launch of Express Wi-Fi, Mark Summer, CEO Surf said, “Surf’s mission is to expand the Kenyan consumers’ options for internet access by offering fast, radically affordable internet services where they live, work and play. We’re excited to rollout Express Wi-Fi widely to Kenyan consumers. We are honored to be working with Facebook, who powers Express Wi-Fi, and Internet Solutions, formerly Access Kenya, who is our service provider partner enabling us to expand rapidly throughout the country.”
The wi-fi hotspots are currently focused in areas where people gather for work, transit or entertainment such as markets, matatu stages and chill spots. Anyone with a wi-fi capable device can use Express Wi-Fi without switching SIM cards or having a data plan, as long as you can receive a one-time SMS on this or any other device. Consumers use wi-fi enabled devices to connect through wi-fi, which means people can use most Android and IOS phones, tablets, and even laptops.
Surf is working with local entrepreneurs to host and sell the Express Wi-Fi service. The entrepreneurs offer the service around their locations and customers can purchase a range of packages. Surf is offering an introductory promotion, where every new customer gets 100MBs every day for 10 days, guaranteeing that the customers can experience the service as soon as they sign up. In addition, anyone connected to an Express Wi-Fi hotspot can access Facebook Flex and FreeBasics, a collection of websites including content such as news, employment, health, education and local information, for free while connected to the Express Wi-Fi network.
“At Internet Solutions Kenya, we strive to connect people using the power of the internet because when you connect people, great things can happen,” said Richard Hechle, CEO, Internet Solutions. “We’re excited to work with Surf and Facebook, so they can use our high capacity backbone network to deliver scale quickly to make this happen.”
This initiative supports Kenya’s broader commitment to achieve universal internet access; to connect everyone in the country and to provide better service to those already connected. In Kenya, Express Wi-Fi will serve as another tool to help people connect, help entrepreneurs and developers grow and eliminate barriers to connectivity.
“Facebook’s goal is to connect people and enable our partners to build sustainable businesses. Express Wi-Fi empowers local entrepreneurs with the tools and technology to start a business to offer internet access to their town or region, while helping their customers connect easily and for an affordable rate,” said Uche Ofodile, Regional Head of Africa, Express Wi-Fi by Facebook, at the launch of the Express Wi-Fi service. “In Kenya, we are excited to be partnering with Surf and we are excited to share that the service is already commercially available with more than 100 hotspots across the greater Nairobi metropolitan area.”