Hyderabad now has 1,000 WiFi hotspots live across the city with speeds ranging between 5-10 Mbps: the first 30 minutes of usage will be provided for free, according to this PTI report. The hotspots are deployed under Telangana government’s “Hyderabad City WiFi” project, which the government says has been in pilot mode since June 2015.

Telangana government plans to extend the project to 2,000 more locations (or hotspots) in the next three months, taking the total count to 3,000 hotspots. The project will also cover areas like Telangana’s Warangal, Karimnagar and Khammam districts. The roll-out will be extended based on initial responses received from users from the current launch. The project is estimated to cost Rs 300 crore, with investments coming in from the industry, the report added. Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), telecom lobbying association comprising of top telcos in the country were the technical adviser to the Telangana government for the project.

‘Hyderabad City WiFi’ project has participation from private telcos

Bandwidth: A Telangana government spokesperson told MediaNama that ISPs including ACT and telcos like Airtel and BSNL have provided bandwidth for the project. While IndusTowers, a joint tower infrastructure venture consisting of Idea, Vodafone and Airtel also participated in the WiFi rollout.

Peak speeds of 15 Mbps: After the user exhausts his/her free use of 30 minutes, the user can purchase recharge vouchers from kiosks or pay for usage online, just like WiFi in Airports and malls, the spokesperson added. Each hotspot is configured to provide at least 5 Mbps speeds, with peak speeds delivery of up to 15 Mbps, the spokesperson said.

Locations: As per a statement from Airtel, Hyderabad City WiFi will be present in malls, tourist spots, public offices, police stations, government schools and colleges, etc. All the hotspots are installed in participation with the above mentioned telcos/ISPs, while ACT has been selected for bridging the last mile gap in the project, Airtel added.

Rise of state-sponsored WiFi projects

Apart from Telangana, several state-sponsored public WiFi initiatives were announced in the past couple of months including:
– Karnataka government’s WiFi project in BMTC buses. The Karnataka state government also has two different WiFi project in the works.
Maharashtra government had installed 1200 WiFi hotspots across Mumbai city in May.
-Tamil Nadu government also has a plan for free WiFi facilities in public spaces and Internet in schools.
-Delhi Government plans to install 1000 hotspots in 571 locations.
-BSNL also has plans to install 10,000 hotspots at government-owned schools in Kerala.

The reason behind the growing popularity of WiFi as a medium of Internet access is because it’s being looked upon as a cheaper alternative for providing affordable 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. One startup from Bangalore has executed this model by setting up WiFi hotspots at bakeries/small eateries and providing data as low as Rs 20 for 1 GB.