Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) have signed a deal with the Union Tourism Ministry to equip 100 tourist destinations across the country with high speed public WiFi hotspots, reports TelecomTalk. The deal will last for 7 years, and the Tourism Ministry will bear the operational costs for the first 3 years.
Seventy locations are expected to be narrowed down in the next 6 months by the 2 telecom operators, and will include world heritage sites. According to the ministry, thirty tourist locations have already been provided with WiFi, including the Tirumala temple, Bodh Gaya, Khajuraho, Varanasi ghats, Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal.
Note that BSNL has been separately installing its own WiFi in various locations, including tourist destinations. In May, the telecom operator reported that it had has already installed WiFi hotspots in 16 tourist places and historical monuments; with the facility also to be extended to 3 more locations by July.
BSNL WiFi: BSNL categorizes its WiFi project in 2 sections: Type A hotspots under a Rs 2000 Cr modernization drive to install WiFi hotspots across important locations like tourist and religious spots and Type B hotspots planned across 40,000 locations across the country that BSNL announced in January to make up for the lack of its own 4G services. The current tieup will likely be funded through its modernization drive.
In April, BSNL had added 50 WiFi hotspot locations in the country across its circles including Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. This was part of the second plan where it planned to install 40,000 access points across the country.
State of public WiFi in India: India has only 31,518 public WiFi hotspots, as compared to over 47 million globally, and the TRAI believes that to have one hotspot for every 150 people, we need 800,000 hotspots. Some public WiFi initiatives by Govt agencies in India include Tamil Nadu’s plan for free WiFi facilities in public spaces and internet in schools, Delhi Government’s plan to install 1000 hotspots in 571 locations, and RailTel & Google’s WiFi initiative to provide free WiFi service on railway stations, which recently crossed 300,000 users per week.