FireFly Networks, a joint venture between India’s two largest telecom operators Airtel and Vodafone to provide public WiFi services, has received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for 50% indirect foreign investment and commencement of activities as a Telecom Infrastructure Provider Category-I (IP1).
The company had previously sought permission for the same from the FIPB, however the proposal was deferred in November. According to the department of telecommunications, no license is issued for IP1 and the company is only required to be registered. Companies registered as IP-I can have assets such as dark fibre, right of way, duct space and towers. More on that here.
FireFly Networks was incorporated in February 2014 and had a paid-up capital of Rs 2 crore and an authorized capital of Rs 50 crore, according to data on the registrar of companies. Its directors include Vodafone CEO Sunil Sood, Vodafone EVP for finance Suresh Bagrodia, Airtel director for consumer business Srinivasan Gopalan, Vodafone CTO Vishant Krishnakant Vora and Airtel’s director for network services Abhay Savargaonkar. Airtel had also mentioned that it has invested Rs 1 crore in FireFly networks for the quarter ended June 30 (pdf).
Public WiFi at Supreme Court
In April last year, Firefly Networks installed WiFi services on the premises of the Supreme Court of India. FireFly showed an SSID with VFWiFiVoucher. Users opting for the complimentary free service would be able to access the network for 20 minutes with a data limit of 100 Mb. After consuming the Complimentary Wi-Fi pack, subscriber can purchase other WiFi packs i.e. Rs 20 for 30 minutes, Rs 30 for 60 minutes and Rs. 50 for 120 minutes.
Deployments in Delhi
In March it was reported that FireFly Networks was looking to get maximum chunk of the WiFi deployments in NDMC areas of Delhi, besides targeting other state governments’ WiFi plans. FireFly has done some deployments in Delhi, which are yet to be launched commercially, including deployments in New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) areas such as Connaught Place and Khan Market.