More public WiFi initiatives introduced: 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, has been launched by the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, reports The Economic Times.

Kumar claims that this is currently the longest free Wi-Fi zone in the world. IT minister Shahid Ali Khan mentions that they also plan to offer free Wi-Fi facility at all the tourist spots in the state.

What’s currently not clear though is with whom the government has tied-up with for this initiative and how can one one sign up for the service to access it. There is also no information on what speeds a consumer could expect through this initiative and whether there’s a limit on the session length or data caps for consumers using this service. In our experience, public WiFi services tends to be very slow (at least until now) and even unreliable at times.

Frankly, India itself doesn’t have a great track record with public WiFi. Announcements have been made often, but there’s been little in terms of delivery. However, we’ve noticed a sudden upswing in the amount of public WiFi initiatives being announced in India over the past few months. Hopefully, there will be some reliable public WiFi services by the end of this year.

Other Public WiFi Initiatives

Last month, Bangalore had become the first city to have free WiFi hotspots called Namma WiFi, on M G Road, Brigade Road and four other locations in Bangalore including Traffic and Transmit Management Centres (TTMCs) at Shanthinagar, Yeshwanthpur, Koramangala and CMH Road in Indiranagar. However, we were unsuccessful to access this WiFi service when we tried it earlier this month.

Telecom service provider Vodafone had introduced a WiFi zone for its customers at the Belvedere Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon, as a part of its branding exercise at the Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon while the government owned MTNL had stated plans to launch WiFi hotspots with speeds of 8Mbps for its customers in Mumbai and Delhi. Idea Cellular had also soft-launched its WiFi service in 5 select cities – Ahmedabad, Cochin, Pune, Hyderabad, and Vizag.

Last year, Tata DOCOMO had an exclusive agreement with GMR Airports to offer Wi-Fi services at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, Tikona had planned to launch a Wi-Fi network at the Maharana Pratap Inter-State bus terminus (ISBT) in partnership with the Delhi Transport Corporation while Videocon Telecom had partnered with Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei to launch Wi-Fi hotspots in Punjab circle.

Reliance Jio is also apparently planning to launch large scale WiFi networks in Mumbai and Delhi and the company has reportedly inked a contract with Ericsson to set up around 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across commercial buildings, offices and malls in these regions.

Other public WiFi initiatives includes Air India which plans to offer free WiFi on its domestic and international flights and Indian Railways’s string of WiFi pilot projects on Howrah Rajdhani ExpressMumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi ExpressChennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express and at New Delhi railway station.