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Growth of Public Wi-Fi Hotspots in India

The growth of the Internet in India in the recent past has been phenomenal. The Internet has become an integral part of people’s lives. Everyone wants to stay connected all the time. 

Understanding the need for connectivity, the Indian Government and telecom companies are working to strengthen the public Wi-Fi system in different regions of the country. 

Wi-Fi hotspot in India

A Wi-Fi hotspot is a physical location that lets multiple users access the Internet at the same time using the wireless technology. It forms the base of the public Wi-Fi system. 

Even the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is of the opinion that public Wi-Fi system serves as the backbone for increasing the Internet penetration in India. TRAI is allowing major telecom service providers, small businesses, communities, and even individuals to deploy Wi-Fi facilities across the country. 

In India, public Wi-Fi may be found at airports, hotels, metro stations, railway stations, markets, cafes, educational institutions, public parks, business parks, hospitals, and stadiums, among other places. 

As of 2016, there were 31,518 Wi-Fi hotspots in India. These included 2 flights, 108 airports, 150 municipalities, 4,435 retail outlets, 12,856 hotels, and 13,967 cafes.   

The journey began in 2004 when Mysore became the first ever Wi-Fi-enabled city in the country. Besides, it was also the second city in the world to achieve this. 
Some other cities that enjoy 30 minutes free public Wi-Fi facilities in India are Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Patna, Lucknow, Chennai, Gurugram, and Ahmedabad, among others. 

In New Delhi, individuals use the Wi-Fi facility at Khan Market, HauzKhas village, and Connaught Place. The service is free for a limited period and after that, the individual needs to pay if he wants to use the service further. Metro stations in the city like Rajiv Chowkand Kashmere Gate are also Wi-Fi enabled. 

Some of the Wi-Fi-enabled places in Bengaluru are MG Road, CMH Road, Koramangala bus stop, Brigade Road, Shanthinagar bus stop, and Yeshwantpur bus stop.

Ahmedabad offers Wi-Fi facilities at MadhupuraMarket, Gandhi Ashram, Science City, and Kankaria Lake. 

In Mumbai, the first spots to offer Wi-Fi facilities were airports, Mumbai Central Station, and Shivaji Park at Dadar. In January 2017, Mumbai became the first Indian city to have the largest public Wi-Fi system after the State Government installed 500 hotspots across various locations in the city. 

Public Wi-Fi projects

The Wi-Fi system in India has been improved over the years with more installations and better services. Several projects have been planned to enhance the system further.  

Under the Digital India program, the Government of India aims to cover all the cities that have a population of over 1 million with public Wi-Fi. Department of Telecom and Ministry of Urban Development are working in collaboration to achieve thistarget. The government has also planned to launch Wi-Fi services in 1,050 villages of the country by July 2017. 

RailTel aims to make 700 Indian railway stations Wi-Fi enabled. The company has already completed its pilot projects in cities of New Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Howrah, Varanasi, and Agra, among others. 

Social media giant, Facebook has also planned to offer its public Wi-Fi service in rural India. It began testing its service in 2015. By May 2017, the company already activated around 700 hotspots in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, and Uttarakhand. 

Future of Wi-Fi hotspot in India 

Wi-Fi in India has a wide potential in the future. This is because many people in the country still do not have access to the Internet. Other factors contributing towards the growth of public Wi-Fiare demand for high speeds, increase in the adoption of smart phones, and easy setting up of the publichotspots.

Government and private businesses both are showing an increased interest that will lead to an accelerated growth of public Wi-Fi system in the country. The exponential growth of 4G services in India also indicates a promising future for the public Wi-Fi system. 

According to industry experts, the number of hotspots in India is expected to cross 202,000 by 2018.  In future, India will be totally Wi-Fi-enabled. Whenever anyone moves across the country, the user will be able to connect seamlessly to the public Wi-Fi network, smoothly switch between networks and service providers, and efficiently and quickly use digital services without using the mobile data. 

With the projects that have been charted out, it is certain that more and more areas, villages, cities, and states will be made Wi-Fi enabled in India.The Smart City and Digital India initiatives will take the work forward.The contribution of private companies for efficient connectivity through public Wi-Fi will help in the success of these digital initiatives.

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