Reliance Jio Infocomm will be introducing 4G-enabled free Wi-Fi service across Kolkata within the next two months, reports The Telegraph. From February 5 free Wi-Fi service will be provided to citizens in Park Street and the surrounding areas like Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, Loudon Street, Russell Street and Little Russell Street. All 145 municipal wards of the city will be covered over the next two months.
While Reliance Jio hasn’t officially revealed any details regarding data plans, connection speed & charges (if any), the report mentions that initially there would be no download or surfing limits on users and the service is expected to be completely free for most parts of 2015. Data transfer speeds will depend on the spectrum band Reliance Jio chooses to use for the service.
Delighted to announce that #Kolkata will become India’s first fully Wi-Fi enabled metro city in the next 2-3 months. Park St from Feb 5
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) January 27, 2015
The report also mentions that Reliance Jio has claimed to have achieved speeds of 50 Mbps during trial runs. It’s extremely unlikely that similar speeds will be available to users on the ground, as there’s certain amount of speed degradation in wireless environments, plus the number of users connected to the network will also affect the speed.
In June last year, Reliance Jio had launched free Wi-Fi hotspots in eight locations at Ahmedabad and nine locations at Baroda and Surat. This was part of Gujarat Government’s e-Nagar project. Users were provided 72 hours of free usage which could be extended through re-activation. While there was no official word on the average internet speeds provided at these Wi-Fi hotspots, a DNA report had cited a company technician to suggest average downloading speeds of 40 Mbps. It had also added that the service is being offered free for three months.
Reliance Jio, which was a sponsor of the IIT Bombay Techfest earlier this month, had been testing its 4G service during the festival and average internet speeds of up to 117 Mbps had been recorded. (Hat tip: Shashidhar KJ).
In December 2012, an Economic Times report had suggest that Reliance Jio was looking to launch large scale Wi-Fi networks in Mumbai and Delhi. It had reportedly inked a contract with Ericsson to set up around 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across commercial buildings, offices and malls in these cities.
It’s worth noting that Reliance Jio Infocomm is the only company to have a pan-India Broadband WirlessAccess spectrum that can be used for 4G services and about seven months are left before the BWA rollout obligations period is over.