Vodafone India is piloting WiFi hotspots in several metros including Mumbai for its subscribers, reports The Economic Times.
This initiative is part of the company’s Project Spring initiative to improve its data coverage and capacity in emerging markets like India along with Europe, for which the telco is apparently spending around Rs 7,000 crore in India.
While the details on this service is still sparse at the moment, the focus here seems to be on crowded areas where data quality generally takes a hit. Through this, Vodafone is probably looking to offload users to WiFi networks, thereby reducing the network congestion and address the growing data consumption on its network.
What’s also worth noting here is that Vodafone is looking at a one-time authentication process for its subscribers (for each hotspot) rather than re-authenticating them with a username and password every time the user accesses the WiFi network.
We feel this would make things much simpler than the existing system of asking users to connect by authenticating using a code sent to their mobile phones, which tends to be unreliable at times. However, this can also turn out to be tricky and we are curious to see how Vodafone will be managing security concerns related to people using this WiFi service.
According to the report, Vodafone is yet to decide whether to charge users for this service or keep it free. Note that Aircel CMO Anupam Vasudev had earlier said in a panel discussion that people are typically unwilling to pay for a public WiFi service since they want the service to be free, due to which public WiFi services don’t typically work out.
Other Public WiFi Initiatives from Telcos
Over the past few months, India has been a series of public WiFi developments, probably to address the existing poor public WiFi scenario and the growing mobile Internet consumption in the country. Earlier this year, Vodafone had introduced a free 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.
Tata Teleservices is also looking to shift its focus to public WiFi hotspots, by setting up 4,000 WiFi hotspots in nine cities across India over the next two years.
Gujarat government is also rolling out WiFi hotspots across the state, reportedly in collaboration with Reliance Jio. There were also reports of Jio looking to launch large scale WiFi networks in Mumbai and Delhi and tying up with Ericsson to set up around 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across commercial buildings, offices and malls in these regions.
Earlier in January, Government owned MTNL had stated plans to launch WiFi hotspots with speeds of 8Mbps for its customers in Mumbai and Delhi, while 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. Idea Cellular had also soft-launched its WiFi service in 5 select cities – Ahmedabad, Cochin, Pune, Hyderabad, and Vizag.
Tikona had stated plans 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.