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Reliance Industries’ data services venture Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) has launched free Wi-Fi hotspots in eight locations at Ahmedabad and nine locations at Baroda and Surat, the company has disclosed in its annual report for the financial year 2014.

RIL claims that it has provided high speed Internet trials to over 55,000 unique devices since launch. Users were provided 72 hours of free usage which could be extended through re-activation. The company claims that it had also deployed on-ground teams in each of these locations along with central call centres to facilitate users connect to Jio’s Wi-Fi service.

This ties in with a DNA report in February this year, which had suggested that Reliance Jio had launched eight wi-fi spots in Ahmedabad, in collaboration with the Gujarat government. These Wi-Fi hotspots were launched as part of the state’s ‘e-Nagar’ project and was expected to be rolled out to 53 towns in Gujarat in the long run.

While there was no official word on the average Internet speeds one could expect at these wi-fi hotspots, the DNA report had cited a company technician to suggest an average downloading speeds of 40 Mbps. It had also added that the service is being offered free for three months.

We are also reminded of a source-based The Economic Times report from last December, which had suggested that Reliance Jio is looking to launch large scale WiFi networks in Mumbai and Delhi. It had reportedly had 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

Of late, we have noticed several government-led and telco-led public WiFi initiatives in the country. These include:

– Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had launched 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.
– Karnataka government had launched free WiFi hotspots called Namma WiFi, on several popular locations in Bangalore including MG Road, Brigade Road and Traffic and Transmit Management Centres (TTMCs) at Shanthinagar, Yeshwanthpur, Koramangala and CMH Road in Indiranagar.

– Vodafone had introduced a WiFi zone for its customers at the Belvedere Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon.
– Government owned MTNL had stated plans to launch WiFi hotspots for its customers in Mumbai and Delhi.
– Tata Teleservices was 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.
– 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.
– Videocon Telecom had partnered with Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei to launch Wi-Fi hotspots in Punjab circle.

Optical Fibre-based Broadband services

In addition to 4G wireless services, Reliance Jio is also rolling-out high speed internet services via optical fibre (FTTX) in over 900 cities/towns in the country.

This reminds of a similar report from April last year, which had suggested that RJIL will be offering a Google Fiber-like high speed broadband service along with television and other services. We are curious to see if this rollout will finally provide the much needed impetus for the broadband base to grow in India.