Come summer of 2010 and the city of Chennai will be completely encased in a WiFi mesh set up by Zylog Systems India, a subsidiary of US-based Zylog Systems. Branded as Wi5, the wireless broadband service will be rolled out in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata too. Zylog owns a category A internet service provider license and can operate in all of India’s DoT circles.
Nikhil adds: This appears to be the first commercial deployment of WiFi Mesh networks in India: the only other deployment that comes to mind is of the AirJaldi WiFi mesh network in Dharamsala. What I’d been told, is such a network is possible in a mountainous region, due to the lack of obstructions, and in a city, connectivity will be intermittent due to a large number of obstructions.
Not Hotspots: Metro Wifi Connectivity; Trains Too
Zylog is still conducting a trial of its WiFi service at the city’s corporation building. It has now covered a few parts of the city and will expand to cover it entirely by mid-2010. Zylog has already set up 250 wireless nodes and will be putting up 4000 more. How Wi5 will be different from the current hotspots model is that the nodes will be set up on roofs of buildings – similar to towers by telcos. Its business model will also be different – the company will offer subscriptions to the network via the retail route. Users will have to pay in advance the rental charges for WiFi nodes. It is not clear if the rental will be different for enterprises and businesses or if only individual users will be able to rent the nodes. And if the user will be offered any flexibility in sharing his connection.
What is exciting is that the WiFi hotspots will not be limited to hotels or the airport or a cafe, but can be used from a garden, your terrace and even while travelling.
Zylog will be bringing Wi5 to trains: to start with, the Chennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express will be WiFi-enabled, its website says. Will this clash with the Indian Railways’ plan of enabling WiFi on all trains? It had started this roll out in January on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi, but we have not found any updates since.
Zylog seems confident of its foray, investing Rs. 2 billion and expecting to earn Rs. 5 billion in the next five years from India.
Tariffs; What Is The Download Limit?
Wi5 is available in three prepaid plans: for Rs. 550, Rs. 1000 and Rs. 1750. The Rs. 550 plan offers speeds of 1 Mbps, while Rs. 1000 brings 2 Mbps and the last 4 Mbps. Ofcourse, these are theoretical, and practical speeds are generally much lower. There is no information available on download limits nor on payment procedures. We also wonder if the company will offer postpaid plans?
Security No Longer An Issue?
What caught our attention was that an Armed Forces DIG inaugurated Wi5 – was it an indication of the government being okay with WiFi finally? Read about how WiFi almost became illegal in India.