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State run telco BSNL has added 50 more WiFi hotspot locations in the country across its circles including Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. BSNL announced in January that it plans to set up around 40,000 WiFi hotpsots across the country to make up for the lack of its own 4G services; it claimed to have already deployed 500 public WiFi hotspots by that time.

Last month BSNL announced a Rs 2000 crore modernization drive; under the drive the state run telco said that it would deploy nationwide public WiFi hotspots across important locations like tourist and religious spots. A PIB press release notes that the telco plans on adding 2500 WiFi hotspots across the country, under the first phase.

BSNL’s online portal has categorized its WiFi hotspot services into two kinds:

-BSNL mentions that Type A hotspots are applicable at public locations such as railways stations, universities and campuses, etc., initially for a test period of 90 days from the date of launch. So it sounds like more of a trial run than a permanent installation. This type of hotspot will cost between Rs 100 to 2500, based on validity, prepaid or postpaid use, billed per minute.

-Type B hotpsots are applicable for personal use in location like hotels, privately owned institutes and colleges, universities, libraries, etc. Owners of these location will have to purchase prepaid coupons in bulk at discounted price and distribute it among customers. Usage is billed under prepaid or postpaid basis, costing anywhere between Rs 30 to Rs 2000.

Additionally, as a trial offer, BSNL provides free usage on each Sunday during first 90 days. Minimum charges per session is Rs. 20 for prepaid and Rs. 10 for postpaid; this is not applicable for the first 90 days.

Facebook ties up with BSNL for WiFi: In November 2015, Facebook and BSNL entered into a partnership to create 100 WiFi hotspots in rural areas in India, for which Facebook would invest Rs 5 crore per year to buy bandwidth from BSNL. This initiative would start off with 100 villages, with Rs 5 lakh spent per year per site for buying bandwidth from BSNL. Note that in June 2015, the telecom operator tied up with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to provide WiFi hotspots for tourists at the Taj Mahal. In February 2015, it launched free WiFi in Varanasi and in April 2015, it launched public WiFi in Hyderabad as well.

Similar developments in Public Wi-Fi

-Last month, Reliance Jio said that it  would offer free Wi-Fi connectivity through its Jionet programme across 6 cricket stadiums in the country, ahead of the ICC T20 tournament.

-In January, Ortel Communications introduced free public WiFi hotspots for its broadband subscribers, as a value added service in Bhubaneswar.

-In the same month, The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and telecom operator Tata Docomo signed a partnership to launch free WiFi services. Free WiFi would also be provided around the area of PJ Tower in Mumbai to public without charge for four hours.

-In January, Internet service provider Joister launched Joispot WiFi, a public WiFi initiative in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, with speeds of up to 2Mbps, 4Mbps, and 8 Mbps at different rates.

-In September 2015, Google announced that it would tie-up with the Indian Railways and RailTel to provide high-speed WiFi coverage in 400 stations across India.

Image source: Flickr user Arkangel under CC BY-SA 2.0