Cisco Systems Inc. is collaborating with Google for the latter’s ‘gStation’ initiative to provide free and high-speed public WiFi hotspots across India, the U.S.-based networking solutions provider said on Monday.
As part of the initiative, the companies have launched a pilot project for public WiFi in Bengaluru. Twenty-five locations in the city are already live and another 200 locations will go live in the next 2-3 months.
These locations include public spaces like bus stops, hospitals and government offices, among others. Post that, the public WiFi hotspots will be introduced in 300 more locations in Bengaluru, and then more cities in India.
“This is a global partnership and India is the first country where we are rolling this out,” Cisco President (India and SAARC) Sameer Garde said at the Cisco India Summit 2019.
The public WiFi project is being rolled out in partnership with D-VoiS—an Internet service provider in Bengaluru. The next locations being looked at include outskirts of Delhi, and cities in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
“The success of digitisation and digital citizen services is closely tied to proliferation of high-speed internet. The partnership represents a significant growth opportunity as the demand for public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to go up by 100x over the next three years,” he said.
Google and Cisco had in February announced their global alliance.
According to a report by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, an estimated 80 lakh additional public WiFi hotspots need to be installed in the country to create new market opportunities for infrastructure providers and internet service providers. Currently, India has only 52,000 public WiFi hotspots.
“Solving for access is one of the core pillars of our ‘Next Billion Users’ strategy, and with gStation we have developed a best in class public WiFi solution that provides seamless, high-quality broadband experience to users,” said Sajith Sivanandan, managing director and business head at Google Pay and Next Billion User Initiatives India.
The proliferation of public WiFi hotspots in India can provide a significant boost to the government’s digital ambitions of ubiquitous connectivity and digital inclusion, and serve as a complementary network for telcom companies.
According to the Cisco VNI report, nearly 59 percent of internet traffic is expected to be offloaded from cellular networks to WiFi by 2022, wherein lies the tremendous opportunity for ubiquitous dispersion of WiFi.
Google, through ‘gStation’, provides WiFi services in public locations in partnership with various entities. In partnership with RailTel, it has provided WiFi access across over 1,000 railway stations in the country.
Apart from India, Google has taken the model to other countries like Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand and Mexico as well.―Bloomberg Quint