Vodafone yesterday launched its WiFi enabled bus shelter at HUDA City Centre, Gurgaon. It gives complimentary Internet usage for up to 20 minutes per day for each user and is open to subscribers of all carriers. The company told MediaNama that non-Vodafone users can pay for extra usage and the speeds delivered at the WiFi shelters will be around 20mbps.
For Vodafone users, the telco has introduced a number of free WiFi offers on its prepaid recharges as well as for its postpaid RED (premium survive) customers. The company claims to have installed WiFi hotspots across 115 locations in Delhi-NCR, which includes markets, malls, hospitals, colleges etc. However, 20 minutes of free WiFi service (operator agnostic) is only available at select locations: Dilli Haat (INA Market), Khan Market, Fortis Hospital (Gurgaon) and at all Vodafone Stores across Delhi-NCR.
Voucher packs for non-Vodafone and Vodafone users:
Previously, Vodafone had deployed WiFi hotspots at Delhi IGI Airport, Ahmedabad Railway Station, and Belvedere Rapid Metro Station in Gurgaon. Vodafone is also a part of FireFly Networks, a joint venture which offers WiFi services in the country, which seemingly looked like a plan to take on Jio’s WiFi service in March 2015. Following this, Firefly deployed WiFi services at the Supreme Court premises a month later; and in April this year, it deployed WiFi at Delhi’s Karkardooma Court Complex. Firefly is also reportedly raising funds via FDI route.
It’s not just Vodafone which is investing more into WiFi, other telcos like Airtel, Idea and Jio also have their own WiFi hotspots across the country. The central government under the BharatNet project, and various state governments including Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, etc. have also been setting up WiFi hotspots. Bandwidth is purchased from state-owned operators as well as private operators.
In India, WiFi is now being seen 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 (in form of WiFi) bought from ISPs at cheaper rates. TRAI recently launched WiFi Access Network Interface (WANI), a partnership WiFi project which shares the cost of setting up WiFi among entities like telcos, app providers, payment providers, equipment manufacturers, MVNOs, etc. WANI project is currently in pilot mode and TRAI is currently inviting participation from private companies/entities.
Note: The story has been updated with comments from Vodafone.