Telecom operator Vodafone India has entered into a collaboration with the Indian Railways, to set up free WiFi zone at Ahmedabad’s railway station in Kalupur. According to the company, anyone will be able to avail the WiFi services irrespective of their telecom operator.
The free WiFi will be free for up to 20 minutes of ‘uninterrupted’ usage or 100MB data, whichever comes first. The user can reconnect for free usage every 24 hours. Note that it’s not clear what Vodafone means by uninterrupted; will the user’s 20 minutes of time be reset if he/she disconnects in 19 minutes? Furthermore, it’s not clear if users can pay for more WiFi usage, and if so, how and how much. We have written to Vodafone asking about these issues and will update the story accordingly.
The public Wifi space has been really picking up steam in India, although questions over security and privacy remain. The rising interest in public WiFi is helped by the fact that mobile data charges keep getting higher while smartphone adoption is at an all time high.
Other public Wifi initiatives undertaken in India:
– In July, Amazon offered free WiFi internet with unlimited usage across select bus stops in Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai, as a temporary campaign.
– In June, Airtel won the mandate for the launch of Wi-Fi services in Gurgaon from the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG).
– The same month, state-run telecom operator BSNL tied up with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to provide WiFi hotspots for tourists at the Taj Mahal.
– 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, FireFly Networks, and had recently installed WiFi services at the Supreme Court of India. You can read more about this here.
– In April, Airtel 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.
– 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.
– 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 got access to free Wi-Fi connectivity on their mobile phones through an 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.
– In April this year, Hyderabad became the first city in the south zone to have BSNL Wifi internet.
Vodafone 4G launch: Last month Vodafone announced that it would launch its 4G services by the end of this year, starting with Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi and Kochi in the first part of the rollout. Other than this, the company said it would roll out its 3G networks in 7 circles: in the Northeast, Assam, UP West, Kerala, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Odisha.
Vodafone India numbers: Vodafone India reported 22.1 million 3G Internet connections for the quarter ended June 30, 2015. In comparison, the telecom operator had 10 million connections in the same period last year, and 19.4 million subscribers in the preceding quarter. This takes up Vodafone India’s total data connections up to 66.8 million, up 4.38% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) from 64 million.