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The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will launch WiFi at 144 major bus stations across the state, reports Deccan Herald. This includes four bus stations in Bangalore currently undergoing the pilot survey, which will be extended to 14 bus stations in the city eventually.

The transport agency mentions that a private company will set up the facilities for free, as it can earn revenues through advertising to make up for the cost of establishing the hotspot. To access the WiFi, users need to select ‘ION WiFi’ from available networks, and verify and register using their mobile numbers. Once connected, users will be provided with a (rather slow) 512kbps connection for 60 minutes or 100 MB, whichever is earlier. It’s not clear how much the service will cost post the free period.

Note that it’s not clear what sort of advertising deal ION has with KSRTC, but we sure hope it remains limited to ads on the physical hotspot units, rather than inserting ads in the browsing experience. Google has a similar deal with New York City, where the company will provide free WiFi in return for display ads on the hotspot units themselves. New York City expects to have 10,000 hotspots in place all over the city, with preliminary tests indicating speeds upwards of 400Mbps (!!).

WiFi at railway stations: Last month, the Indian Railways and Google deployed their first free public WiFi service starting with Mumbai Central. At the time, Google said that it would look to cover 100 of the busiest stations by this year end, with the goal of eventually covering 400 stations. Google had first announced its tie-up with the Indian Railways and RailTel to provide high speed WiFi coverage in 400 stations across India in September last year.

Other public WiFi initiatives:

– In January, Ortel Communications introduced free public WiFi hotspots for its broadband subscribers, as a value added service in Bhubaneswar

– Internet service provider Joister also launched Joispot WiFi, a free public WiFi initiative in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, with speeds of upto 2Mbps.

– BSNL said it was working on setting up 40,000 WiFi hotspots across the country to make up for the lack of its own 4G services. In November, Facebook and BSNL entered into a partnership to create 100 WiFi hotspots in rural areas in India.

– The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and telecom operator Tata Docomo signed a partnership to offer free WiFi services, to be provided around PJ Tower in Mumbai to the public.

Image Credit: Sébastien Bertrand under the CC BY 2.0 license