Gurgaon To Get Thousand New Wi-Fi Spots
The GMDA has promised over 1,000 new free WiFi hotspots in Gurgaon soon. But the four hotspots that do exist don’t paint a very optimistic picture of the scale-up.
When the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) said earlier this month that the city will be getting over 1,000 new free WiFi hotspots, it was a welcome announcement. The Millennium City has had a conspicuous absence of free public WiFi in the city. You might also recall that this isn’t the first time free WiFi hotspots are being set up in Gurgaon. Back in 2017, Gurgaon’s other civic body – the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) – had launched four such hotspots, a first in the city. As the bodies prepare to scale up free internet connectivity in the city, GT did a spot check at the four locations where hotspots are supposed to be functional – MG Road, Sector 29 Market, Sadar Bazaar, and Sarhaul – only to find non-functioning internet and/or lack of awareness about the hotspots in most of these places.
Sector 29 Market
At the Sector 29 Market, which was our next stop, finding the network itself was a task. Only one spot in the market, close to the central parking, was where we discovered the network, but again, could not connect to it. As at MG Road, the visitors here seemed oblivious to the fact that the place has free public WiFi.
Sam, who works nearby, told us, “I had no idea that this place had free WiFi and I have been coming here for years. Yeh pehle pata hota toh kitna data bach jata.” Sanjana Negi, a student from south Delhi who had heard of the free WiFi, said, “I couldn’t connect to the network even though I tried. But it doesn’t make sense to have a hotspot in this market. Most of the outlets here have their own WiFi that you can use. Why do you need one more in the parking?”
We visited the Mall Mile first and found the free WiFi network quickly enough. Connecting to it was another matter, though. After half-a-dozen failed attempts, when our device finally connected to the network, it took two more attempts and several minutes before we could sign in and begin using the internet. Once connected, though, it was smooth sailing. Surprisingly, even the regulars in the area have no clue about the hotspot. Chandrakant, who works on MG Road, said, “I had no idea that there was free public WiFi here, and I have been working here for over a year. There is no publicity about it.” Many others said they were aware of the network but connecting to it was a task. Siddharth, a student who visits the malls on MG Road often, said, “I had heard about the network and tried connecting to it once or twice a few months ago, but couldn’t even open the sign-up page. The process is so slow that I gave up after a while.”
Our next stop was the busy Sadar Bazaar. Even though we traveled through different bylanes of the market for over half-an-hour, we could not find any trace of the network. But even with a seemingly nonexistent network, people knew about the hotspot. Local shopkeepers said that the WiFi used to work at one point, but they haven’t bothered connecting to it in over a year. “Yahan jab launch hua tha toh bahut tez net chalta tha. Sabko shauq tha toh log connect karte thay ek-aadhe ghante ke liye. Par kaafi time se shayad chal nahi raha hai,” Manoj, a shopkeeper, said.
This hotspot is technically supposed to be at Sarhaul Village, but it covers the various offices and factories that line the road leading to the village too. While the network was easily discoverable and even connectable at some spots on the road, it was absent the closer you went to the main village. “Only in name is the hotspot in Sarhaul. Actually, it is for the offices nearby. We all come to the main road often to connect our phones. Yahan toh aasani se ho jaata hai,” said Raman, a local resident. But if the network is for the benefit of the office goers in the area, they seem to be unaware. Manish, who has been working in an office here for over two years, told us, “I don’t think anybody in my office knows that there is free WiFi here. Otherwise, our smoke or lunch breaks would get longer.”
All four hotspots work: GMIDA
When we told GMDA officials about the non-functioning hotspots, they said they would look into it, but maintained that all four were functional. “To the best of our knowledge, all four hotspots are functional and we conduct regular checks to make sure all of them work. We will still look into any irregularity or network issue and raise it with the company running it,” said an official, without wishing to be named. The 1,000 new hotspots planned by the GMDA include all the 300+ bus shelters for the new city bus service, as well as prominent locations like malls, markets, and hospitals. Officials hope that they will be operational by the summer. Residents also hope that the existing hotspots will get an overhaul too and become fully functional by then.
How the hotspot works
The free WiFi network was launched by the GMDA in 2017. One needs to find the network at one of the four hotspots and connect to it, which will open a sign up page. On signing up, the user receives an OTP. Upon filling in the OTP, the user can use the
internet. Any user can only use 30 minutes of free internet in one day, after which they can top up more data for a price. At any given point of time, 500 users/devices can connect to one hotspot.―Times Of India
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