Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has announced plans to set up WiFi hotspots in eight localities of Ahmedabad as part of the state’s ‘e-Nagar’ project. 53 towns in Gujarat will be covered under the project in the long run.
It is not clear with whom the government has tied-up for this project or by when it will be implemented. Ahead of Gujarat elections of 2012, BJP had said in its manifesto that it will set up a statewide WiFi network in public places and commercial centers. With e-Nagar the party seems to have started delivering on its election promise. Indian government had also launched a similar project to set up WiFi hotspots across villages in India as part of its ongoing national optical fibre network project. It’s not clear how much progress has been made on that project as of now.
As part of e-Nagar, the government will network five municipalities and set up an internet-linked bus rapid transport project in Ahmedabad, so you can find out the exact time of arrival of a bus. It will also develop a mobile app for e-governance and for paying taxes, apart from setting up e-ward service in Rajkot for issuing birth and death certificates.
Other Public WiFi Initiatives
Earlier this month, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had launched a 20 km free Wi-Fi zone between National Institute of Technology (NIT) Patna (located at Ashok Rajpath) and Danapur town present in western Patna. This stretch is allegedly one of the biggest in the world. The state also plans to set up free WiFi in all tourist spots.
Last month, Bangalore had become the first city to have free WiFi hotspots called Namma WiFi, on M G Road, Brigade Road and four other locations in Bangalore including Traffic and Transmit Management Centres (TTMCs) at Shanthinagar, Yeshwanthpur, Koramangala and CMH Road in Indiranagar. However, we were unsuccessful to access this WiFi service when we tried it earlier this month.
Telecom service provider Vodafone had introduced a WiFi zone for its customers at the Belvedere Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon, as a part of its branding exercise at the Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon while the government owned MTNL had stated plans to launch WiFi hotspots with speeds of 8Mbps for its customers in Mumbai and Delhi. Idea Cellular had also soft-launched its WiFi service in 5 select cities – Ahmedabad, Cochin, Pune, Hyderabad, and Vizag.
Last year, Tata DOCOMO had an exclusive agreement with GMR Airports to offer Wi-Fi services at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, Tikona had planned to launch a Wi-Fi network at the Maharana Pratap Inter-State bus terminus (ISBT) in partnership with the Delhi Transport Corporation while Videocon Telecom had partnered with Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei to launch Wi-Fi hotspots in Punjab circle.
Reliance Jio is also apparently planning to launch large scale WiFi networks in Mumbai and Delhi and the company has reportedly inked a contract with Ericsson to set up around 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across commercial buildings, offices and malls in these regions.
Other public WiFi initiatives includes Air India which plans to offer free WiFi on its domestic and international flights and Indian Railways’s string of WiFi pilot projects on Howrah Rajdhani Express, Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express, Chennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express and at New Delhi railway station.
Editors Note (Nikhil Pahwa): we’ve edited the headline to refer to the Gujarat Government, rather than the Gujarat Chief Minister. Shouldn’t have gotten swayed by the personality rhetoric. Such moves are those of the government, not of particular individuals.