Internet service provider Joister has launched Joispot WiFi, a public WiFi initiative in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, with speeds of upto 2Mbps. The company will also offer paid WiFi speeds of 4Mbps and 8Mbps for Rs 200 and Rs 300 respectively. This was first reported by the ET.

We tried registering for service as we spotted a Joispot WiFi network quite close to our workplace. Disappointingly, to join the network users need to first register by verifying their phone number using a one time password, which never arrived in our case. We presume this is a temporary problem and will try again later.

Other than the decently fast 2Mbps free WiFi connection, the company also offers pretty reasonable paid plans: Rs 200 a month for 4Mbps and Rs 300 for 8Mbps with unlimited downloads are much cheaper than equivalent data packs offered by telecom networks. Additionally, unlimited data means users should be able to download and stream content to their heart’s content, a factor that gets increasingly important with the likes of Netflix launching in the country with UHD content.

Free WiFi: Interestingly, Joispot seems to provide this WiFi in partnership with One Rupee Works. One Rupee Works lets users donate Rs 1 per day to deploy and maintain the free (and paid) WiFi network offered by Joispot. Other than in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, the initiative is looking to launch in various tier 2 and tier 3 locations like Boisar, Palghar, Khed, Chiplun, Alibaug etc., and other than Satara (population 3.5 lakh), all towns with populations under 1.5 lakh.

One Rupee Works is looking to raise Rs 4.8 lakh for 10 hotspots in smaller cities to Rs 24 lakh for deploying 50 hotspots in larger cities. By contrast it currently claims to have 800 hotspots in Mumbai, 300 in Navi Mumbai and 400 in Pune. It claims to have raised Rs 384 lakh from 10 contributors and Rs 180 lakh and Rs 192 lakh from 4 contributors each, for hotspots in these cities respectively. The platform lets users donate Rs 1 a day for any number of days the choose. Note that it’s not clear if One Rupee Works is a part of Joister, although the ET report and the platform’s websites seem to suggest this is the case.

BSNL WiFi: Note that state run telco and internet service provider BSNL said last week that it was working on setting up 40,000 WiFi hotspots across the country to make up for the lack of its own 4G services. However, the telco did not divulge how fast its connection would be or how much it would cost. Hopefully, BSNL will take a hint from Joister and launch reasonably priced 4-8Mbps plans with no data caps.

MediaNama’s take:

Overall the idea is brilliant. By launching in major cities first, Joister can raise awareness and possible get users to donate towards setting up hotspots in smaller areas. The crowdfunded/ for-profit model helps the company keeps prices down while still being profitable and bringing internet to the users in cities with populations under a lakh. WiFi also is a good alternative to launching 4G services, as not only does it help avoid spectrum charges, it also allows the ISP to provide WiFi to customers of other operators and compete with them.

Also read: Reliance Jio Trials: mostly 15-30 Mbps download speeds