Airtel

The Government of Telangana and Bharti Airtel have tied-up to launch public Wi-Fi hotspots in Hyderabad. Currently, 17 hotspot locations have been launched on a pilot basis across Hyderabad. These have been set up between Cyber Towers to Madhapur Police Station, Cyber Towers to Kothaguda Junction and Cyber Towers to Raheja Mindspace Circle.

Citizens will be able to use up to 750 MB data per day per user. Users will receive a one-time password on their mobile number on connecting with the Wi-Fi network, to be used for authentication. What isn’t clear is if this is a free service or if users need to pay a fee, and what’s the speed of the connection.

With 750 MB data per day users can actually get some work done, unlike the Wi-Fi hotspots launched by the Karnataka government in Bangalore that provided 30 minutes of free internet access every day at a speed of about 512 Kbps.

It’s not just state governments, even the central government has several ambitious plans for public Wi-Fi. The Department of Telecom (DoT) is apparently working on a project that will provide public Wi-Fi services in cities with a population of more than 1 million. This is part of the Digital India initiative and is likely to be a paid service. The Indian Railways had proposed the introduction of Wi-Fi facility at A1 and A category stations and in 50 rakes of important trains, like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto, in August this year. It had earlier introduced Wi-Fi facility in 3 rakes of Howrah-New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express as a pilot project, in April 2013 after initially announcing it in February 2011.

India’s public Wi-Fi track record isn’t something to be proud of, irrespective of whether it was initiated by governments or private players. While there isn’t any dearth in announcements, when it comes to the delivery stage most have failed.

Other Public Wi-Fi initiatives

– Earlier this year, Reliance Industries’ data services venture Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) had also launched free Wi-Fi hotspots in eight locations at Ahmedabad and nine locations at Baroda and Surat. Users were provided 72 hours of free usage which could be extended through re-activation.

– Bihar government 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, in February this year.

– In January, Vodafone had introduced a Wi-Fi zone for its customers at the Belvedere Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon.

– Other telcos that launched similar services, include government-owned MTNL which had announced setting up of Wi-Fi hotspots for customers in Delhi and Mumbai, Videocon which partnered with Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huwaei to launch Wi-Fi hotspots in Punjab circle, and Tala Teleservices which planned to set up 4000 Wi-Fi hotspots in nine cities across India, among others.