Delhi government has decided to relaunch the free Wi-Fi facility in the new financial year.
Sources said the government has asked the public works department to start conducting a fresh assessment of Wi-Fi hotspots required in the city and submit a detailed report soon. The government will include the proposal to relaunch the service in its budget for 2023-24, said an official.
In its new avatar, the free internet facility will not only be faster but will also be better accessible to the people of Delhi, said an official.
One of its main election promises, the AAP government had launched the free Wi-Fi scheme in the city in December 2019. The government had installed over 11,000 hotspots across the city, which offered free internet in a radius of 50 metres of each hotspot device at a speed of 200MB per second. The government had signed a contract for two years, which expired on December 15, 2022. The government, however, did not extend the contract. It did not even offer any reason to people why the facility had been withdrawn while PWD maintained that the service was “temporarily” unavailable.
“There were some technical reasons why the contract could not be renewed. The finance department too had certain queries regarding it,” said an official requesting anonymity.
According to officials, the government has received a lot of representations from people to improve the service. “We have decided to increase the number of hotspot devices by almost 50% this time. At least 30 assembly constituencies, which are densely populated, will get more hotspot points,” said an official.
“The government has also decided to increase the downloading speed of the free internet facility from 200mb per second to at least 250mbps to give a better experience to people,” the official added.
There were over 11,000 hotspots access points- 100 at parks, markets and important government buildings in each of the 70 assembly constituencies and 4,000 at bus queue shelters – installed across the city at locations frequented by the general public.
The service was designed in a way that each user, identified through his mobile number, got 15GB free data every month at a speed of 200mb per second. Users within the radius of 50m of each hotspot device were able to access the free internet and each device could concurrently handle 150-200 users. The contract was given on OpEx (operating expense) service model where the entire capital investment in setting up the infrastructure was made by the vendor while the government bore the operating cost for providing 15 GB free Wi-Fi per month to all users.
Officials said the same model is likely to be retained when the facility is relaunched.
Though the free Wi-Fi facility was launched in Delhi in December 2019, it was during the pandemic that hotspots had been installed everywhere and people, especially students, started using the service.
Officials confirmed that more than 21 lakh mobile phone users had been accessing free internet through Wi-Fi hotspots installed by PWD. ToI