The Karnataka State Government has launched public WiFi services in 11 gram panchayat areas, reports ET Tech. These villages lie in the districts of Mysore, Tumakuru, Gadag, Ballari, Kalaburgi and Bagalkot.
The WiFi, like most public WiFi initiatives, can be accessed by buying prepaid vouchers. It’s not clear how much the WiFi will cost and what speeds/data caps it will offer. The project is being implemented by the state-owned Keonics, an agency responsible for promoting the electronics industries in Karnataka.
Note that back in 2014, the Government of Karnataka had tied up with D-VoiS, a private internet provider, to launch free WiFi in Bangalore city. At the time, the Government said that it would extend this service to more cities including Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad and some other towns in north Karnataka in the coming months. However, it’s not clear what happened of this partnership as WiFi in the other cities was not announced.
Other Government initiatives providing public WiFi in Karnataka include BSNL, under its Rs 2000 Cr modernization drive to install WiFi hotspots across important locations like tourist and religious spots, and Google’s WiFi in partnership with RailTel, that recently claimed to have 2 million users.
Nationally, 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 BSNL’s plan to install 10,000 WiFi hotspots at government-owned schools in Kerala.
TRAI’s WiFi consultation for collaborative WiFi projects
In a bid to speed up and ease setting up of WiFi services in India, TRAI suggested in a consultation paper that small shops, cafe and mall owners, telcos, ISPs, payment gateways, and even communities could step in and “divide the cost” of operating a WiFi hotspot. The regulator also suggested different types of partnership models between small shop owners, ISPs/telcos for setting up hotspots. More on this here.