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Hyderabad gets free public WiFi; how secure is browsing and payment?

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Public WiFi seems to have become a reality in South India with Hyderabad becoming the first city in the south zone to have BSNL WiFi internet. WiFi hotspots will be available across 30 areas in the city, while other major cities of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana will see connectivity in the next 2-3 years.

In October last year, the Government of Telangana had tied-up with Bharti Airtel to launch public Wi-Fi hotspots in Hyderabad. 17 hotspot locations had been launched on a pilot basis across Hyderabad between Cyber Towers to Madhapur Police Station, Cyber Towers to Kothaguda Junction and Cyber Towers to Raheja Mindspace Circle.

Designated zones for IT growth

Initially, WiFi will be available around a 10 km radius of Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad. The government claims that 1,800-2,500 users should be able to access the service simultaneously. Here’s a list of all the public WiFi spots in India, as of November last year. The Telangana government has designated areas called the The Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) along with the GoI which will include 50,000 acres in and around Hyderabad to deploy IT growth and electronic hardware manufacturing.

OTP to connect, free for 30 minutes

On selecting the public WiFi, a one time password (OTP) is sent to the user’s mobile number. Once the user enters the OTP, he can latch on to the WiFi, where he can see both paid and free services. WiFi will be free to use for the first 30 minutes (for maximum 3 occasions every month) after which users would need to pay Rs 30, 50, 90 and 150 for 30, 60, 120 minutes and a day respectively for speeds from 2-10 mbps.

BSNL-QuadGen tie up

Hyderabad is a part of the 2,500 cities identified by the union government to enable public WiFi in under the Digital India initiative. BSNL has tied up with US based QuadGen Wireless Solutions for this public service where BSNL provides optic fiber connectivity and QuadGen beams the signals. BSNL’s 4000 km long cable network (which is spread over Hyderabad and Secunderabad), will provide WiFi to 2,000 locations in the first phase over the next 6 months. The companies will share revenues stemming out of usage of the service.

Tourist spots and other cities to get WiFi

The government plans to enable WiFi across all of Hyderabad by the end of this year. The Telangana government is also working on rolling out optical fibre connections to 10 million households, expecting 4G networks to be rolled out across the state by June this year. BSNL plans to commit Rs 500 crore for WiFi in this region. The Taj Mahal, Sarnath and Hampi are also on the list of places which will have WiFi, along with other tourist destinations and major cities.

We’ve written to APTS about this service and will update once we hear from them.

– How secure will this WiFi be?
– What if more than 2,500 people try to access the service?
– Given the reliability of BSNL, will a user face frequent disconnections?
– Will the network be encrypted?
– What sort of security measures are being used for payments post free WiFi usage?

Image Credit: Flickr user Dayna Bateman

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