The Karnataka government announced that it will install WiFi hotspots across 2,500 gram panchayats, with an overall investment of Rs 50 crore, set aside from the state’s 2017-18 budget, according to this ET report. The entire WiFi project is being run and maintained by Keonics, a Karnataka government agency responsible for promoting the electronics industries in Karnataka. Karnataka’s IT Minister Priyank Kharge confirmed the development with MediaNama and added that the WiFi project was initially launched in October last year as a pilot project in 11 gram panchayats. These include villages in the districts of Mysore, Tumakuru, Gadag, Ballari, Kalaburgi and Bagalkot. “Initially we kept it free, just to check how people are using it…and post this test phase, we started providing vouchers and charging users from as low as Rs 15 per hour,” Kharge said. He added that the government procures bandwidth from state-owned telcos BSNL for the WiFi project and that currently, it is in the process of deploying infrastructure required for WiFi. Kharge also said that the future strategy of the WiFi project will be decided after analysing usage patterns from the 3-month pilot test. The government plans to provide broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats by end of May 2017, according to Kharge. “We have also signed up with BSNL to give last mile connectivity to any entrepreneur or to any NGO or any educational institutions, whenever they require it,” Kharge added. He also clarified that the WiFi project is a fully government funded project as…
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