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Ola will use Ruckus Wireless WiFi instead of 3G to onboard new cabs


Online cab aggregator Ola has roped in Ruckus Wireless, a US based WiFi and other services provider to add new cars to its platform. Note that this is an internal network which Ola uses to attach new cars to its network once new cab drivers sign up on it.

Ola previously used cellular 3G connectivity to do this, but apparently faced connectivity issues including signal drop outs, interference and limited ranges which slowed the process and hence decided to switch to Ruckus. Ola has deployed the WiFi solution in Bangalore and will replicate it in its ‘cab attaching centres’ across India in the future (timeline not mentioned).

Ruckus Wireless offers WiFi calling and roaming, onboarding of devices to connect to the internet, multi dwelling units, WiFi in retail stores, educational institutions, the hospitality industry, SMBs, for smart city initiatives, in public venues and for location services.

In April this year, Ola launched Ola WiFi, a WiFi service in Ola cabs which would let Ola users connect to it automatically, without having to enter credentials. Ola did not say if it had tied up with another company to provide internet in cabs, unlike Uber which tied up with Airtel. It is unclear how a user can connect to Ola WiFi, but Ola claims that users with a ‘one time authentication’ can use Ola WiFi without having to login into the network for subsequent rides.

Recent Ola developments:
– Earlier this month, Ola tied up with vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd to provide vehicles on loans to 40,000 driver partners through financing worth $400 million (~Rs 2,600 crore).
– Last month, Ola said that TaxiForSure’s assets and operations would be fully merged with OlaCabs, and integrated with Ola Micro service. Ola acquired the Bangalore-based TaxiForSure for a reported $200 million in March 2015.
– In July, travel agents and customers on Via.com platform would be able to book Ola rides for local and outstation travel. Ola had opened up its API to developers in September last year.
– In June, Ola got a license from the Karnataka state government to operate in the state after the cab aggregator was able to meet the conditions of the new guidelines for cab aggregators.
– In the same month, Ola launched a new service called Ola Rentals which will allow users to rent a car on hourly packages.

Ola has been ramping up its service offerings. Lately, the company has introduced:
Ola Outstation, a cab service from Pune to travel to Lonavala, Mumbai, Nashik and Aurangabad.
Ola Lux, a luxury category of cars will include cars like Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Toyota Fortuner, Honda Accord.
Ola Electric rickshaws in partnership with Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC) across Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad.

Ola financials: 

For the quarter ended 31 March 2016, ANI Technologies the parent company of Ola, reported revenues of Rs 51.05 crore from operations and other income in FY 2013-14. This was a growth of over 200% from Rs 16.4 crore in the preceding financial year. Losses in the period stood at Rs 34.22 crore compared to the loss of Rs 22.8 crore in the previous financial year. SoftBank said that Ola’s bookings increased 10 times from the same quarter last year.

Ola funding: In November 2015, Ola raised $500 million from SoftBank Group, DST Global and China’s Didi Kuaidi among other investors for growth related activities and mobility solutions. SoftBank had invested  $250 million in GrabTaxi in December 2014 and had also led a $210 million investment in Ola in October 2014.

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