Adding to an increasing number of state sponsored WiFi projects, the Kerala government too unveiled a public WiFi project today. The state plans to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in 2,000 public places like government offices, bus stops, parks, tourist destinations, courts and public ‘seva kendras’, according to this PTI report. The WiFI service will provide free 300MB of usage to every user every day.
Note that the announcement comes just days after BSNL said that it is setting up 1000 new WiFi hotspots in Kerala.
Chief Minister Of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post that the state is currently identifying telecom operators who are willing to provide bandwidth for the project on a tender basis. The project will be implemented in three phases, and the plan is to complete installation and launch within 7 months, he added. The Kerala State IT Policy for 2017 (pdf) mentions that the WiFi project will be funded in three ways:
- Government sponsored: These hotspots will be installed in government owned buildings and spaces and will be fully funded by the state.
- Private-public partnership: There is also an option for private companies to set up hotspots in selected areas align with a provision for digital and offline advertising of their brands.
- NGO funded hotspots: In selected areas government will lease bandwidth to NGOs for setting up WiFi hotspots.
Kerala State Optical Fiber Network
Similar to the center government’s BharatNet and Tamil Nadu government’s ‘Arasu Cable’, the Kerala government too has an optical fiber deployment project—Kerala Optical Fiber Network (K-OFN)—in the works. The deployment will be focused on connecting state headquarters, district blocks, and gram panchayats. The bandwidth capacity will be between 2 Mbps to 100 Mbps. The optical fiber network will be installed through partnership with state electricity board (KSEB) via existing power lines across the state. A free broadband connection of 2 Mbps will be given to families holding a BPL card.
Rise of state-sponsored WiFi projects
Apart from Kerala, several state-sponsored public WiFi initiatives were announced in the past couple of months including:
-Hyderabad government’s 1,000 WiFi hotspots went live in June this year across the state. It is offering speeds ranging between 5-10 Mbps and the first 30 minutes of usage is being provided for free.
– 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. The state set aside Rs 10 crore for the WiFi project and another Rs 7.3 crore for opening 45 new Amma WiFi Zones in Chennai.
-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.