Ibibo Group-owned online bus booking portal RedBus has started installing WiFi in buses on select routes. The company’s founder and CEO Ashish Kashyap told MediaNama that the WiFi project is at an experimental stage, but he did not expand on future plans. Currently, RedBus provides 50 to 200 MB of free data usage to customers depending on their frequency of bookings.
Kashyap added that WiFi in buses “is part of our initiative of building “Wireless platforms” for the inter-city bus industry.” The company has also featured live bus tracking on its app which allows customers and ticket vendors to track departure, arrival, location, bus statuses in real-time using GPS. Live tracking of buses is now available in 9500 private inter-city buses in India that have signed up with RedBus.
Apart from this, RedBus has a platform for hiring buses and tempos for intercity travel, which was launched in January. At that time, we pointed out that RedBus which is traditionally into ticket booking, is looking to compete with on-demand cab services like Uber and Ola. Note that Ola has ‘Ola Play’ which provides content streaming on phones as well as WiFi on select cabs. Redbus also expanded its ticket booking operations in Singapore and Malaysia in 2015. RedBus’ competitor AbhiBus also has content streaming services: it launched an entertainment product called Abhimovies where travellers can stream a catalogue of free movies via WiFi without the need to connect to the Internet. The Karnataka government has also started installing WiFi on BMTC buses; currently, this is live on 200 BMTC buses
WiFi is picking up pace in India
In India, WiFi is being looked upon as a cheaper and alternative way for providing affordable Internet access. India’s telecom regulator TRAI had earlier proposed a model wherein small shop/cafe owners could resell bandwidth bought from ISPs at cheaper rates. Startups have executed this model by setting up WiFi hotspots at bakeries/small eateries and providing data as low as Rs 20 for 1 GB. Private companies like Airtel, Facebook, and Google also have their WiFi projects running live in India.
Apart from this, several state-sponsored public WiFi initiatives were announced in the past couple of months including Maharashtra government’s plan to install 1200 WiFi hotspots across Mumbai city. Tamil Nadu government also has a plan for free WiFi facilities in public spaces and in schools, while Delhi Government plans to install 1000 hotspots in 571 locations.