DoT To Offer Public WiFi At 705 locations in 45 Cities: But WAIT- It is NOT Free
As a part of our dynamic Prime Minister’s Digital India project which envisages providing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure at the grass root level and empowering the citizens of the country digitally through spreading digital literacy, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has identified 705 tourist locations across 45 cities which will be provided Wi-Fi services.
All the 45 cities chosen for Wi-Fi access in public areas have a population of more than 1 million each. The Municipal Commissioners of these cities will now identify 10 public places in each city for Wi-Fi connectivity. The programme, which will be implemented in phases, will get underway soon and is proposed to be completed by 2018.
The government is reported to have initiated discussions with private service providers for the purpose already. The DoT is looking to free up the 60 GHz spectrum band for Wi-Fi, which will then allow operators to use these airwaves without incurring any spectrum charge or license fee.
The private telecom players have given their rough estimates regarding the same to the DoT. They are willing to offer internet connectivity at the rate of 512 kbps to 500 users at a time over an area of 2500 square metre for a price of Rs 30-50 lakh.
After the scheme becomes operational, all users will be able to surf across the internet on their phones and tablet devices, whether or not they have a 3G or 4G connection.
They will be able to do so irrespective of their service provider after an SMS based authentication.
Though there are many cities in the world where public can access Wi-Fi networks at places like bus stops and metro stations (Amsterdam and Barcelona, for example), such services in India are available only at airports, shopping malls, hotels and select campuses.
Infact, the cities of Paris, Perth, Macau and Hong Kong give free Wi-Fi access to public at chosen hotspots too. In a first of its kind, the BSNL has recently started giving unlimited Wi-Fi in the Prime Ministerial constituency of Varanasi for a paltry Rs. 70 only.
Though this move to set up public Wi-fi hotspots at popular locations across the country comes as great news, there is a catch!!
The public Wi-Fi in these chosen 705 locations will NOT be free of cost- the government intends to charge the users for these services, hoping to develop it into a viable business model.
At a time when internet penetration, internet speed and data usage in any country are among the key factors of its economic growth and development, the DoT is already being applauded for this initiative.
Needless to say, setting up Wi-Fi hotspots at popular tourist destinations and other bigger cities will help improve the image of India globally besides giving the people a chance to be connected to the entire world over the world wide web.
Still wondering if it is too early for the government owned DoT to start offering free Wi-Fi over chosen locations? For now, the public and tourists would not mind paying in order to be able to check their e-mails, train schedules and flight related messages, etc. over their smartphones. What Say?