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Airtel inks deal for WiFi in Gurgaon; FireFly?


Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, has won the mandate for the launch of Wi-Fi services in Gurgaon from the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG). The company says that it intends to soon roll out WiFi services at MG Road, Sadar Bazaar, Sector 29, Sirhaul Village and Leisure Valley Park at a speed of 2mbps for mobile internet users. The model being followed:

– Users will get 30 minutes per day per device (probably mobile device).
– Post 30 minutes of usage, they will be “charged a nominal amount”, which Airtel hasn’t specified, and can consume data from their data packs
– Users will be able to buy vouchers to continue using.

What’s not clear from this:

– Whether the amount being charged for continued usage is something like a cover charge, with additional charges for usage
– Whether the data pack linked usage will be for Airtel users only or across operators
– Whether vouchers can be bought using carrier billing from telecom operators other than Airtel.

We’re writing to Airtel for more details on model being adopted. Do read about the model we prefer, here*.

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What about FireFly Networks?

It’s worth noting that Airtel had piloted WiFi at Cyberhub in Gurgaon for a while, and its competitor Vodafone provided WiFi at a metro station near Cyberhub. The two have a joint venture, and had recently installed WiFi services at the Supreme Court of India. You can read more about this here. It’s not clear exactly how Airtel and Vodafone are working on WiFi: there are instances where Airtel is launching WiFi services separately, and others where they’re partnering with Vodafone.

In October last year, Airtel had tied-up with the Govt of Telangana to launch public Wi-Fi hotspots in 17 locations across Hyderabad. The company also sought permission from the West Bengal government to set up Wi-Fi hotspots across Kolkata, in competition with Reliance Jio, which had tied-up with the West Bengal government to introduce 4G-enabled free Wi-Fi service in some parts of the city.


Other players, tie-ups who provide internet service at public areas

  • Sistema Shyam, which operates under the MTS brand in India, tied up with Indian Railways in April this year, to offer WiFi services at railway stations across India.
  • Reliance Jio Infocomm introduced 4G-enabled free Wi-Fi service across Kolkata in February this year.
  • In November last year, Tata Docomo tied-up with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to launch public Wi-Fi service in the Connaught Place area in Delhi.
  • BSNL launched free WiFi in Varanasi in February this year.
  • Free Wifi was launched in Patna in February last year.
  • Apart from cities and towns, in the previous year, the citizens, of Trikaripur village in Kasaragod district of Kerala, have access to free Wi-Fi connectivity on their mobile phones. The service is being provided through the optical fiber network of state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
  • In January last year, 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.

(with inputs from Mohammed Rumman)

Disclosure: I’m a special invitee with the Delhi Government task force for setting up WiFi in Delhi

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