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Bengalurus free public Wi-Fi proving a drain for provider may soon be withdrawn
news Sunday, July 03, 2016 - 11:40

The next time you make a trip to Bengaluru’s MG Road, be prepared for not receiving free Wi-Fi, as the service that has been available at some key points in the city centre is set to be withdrawn soon.

According to a report in the Bangalore Mirror, D-VoiS Communications’ ION Wireless, which launched the free public Wi-Fi hotspots project in collaboration with the Karnataka government in January 2014, plans to withdraw its services as maintenance and running costs are apparently mounting.

The service currently provides free internet at a speed of 512 Kbps and 100 MB data, which can be used for three hours.

The newspaper reported that the IT-BT department, which had enthusiastically launched the pilot project, has turned its back on the company leaving the project with little further progress in the 2 years since.

Ramesh Sathyanarayana, managing director of ION Wireless, told Bangalore Mirror, “The launch of the pilot project was a brainchild of the Karnataka Information and Communication Technology (KICT) group. When the pilot project was being launched, my company got tremendous support from various civic agencies like the metro, municipality and the electricity utility body of the city, which resulted in its successful launch.”

After the service was launched on Brigade Road and MG Road in January 2014, it was further expanded to the High Court, and to Traffic Transit Management Centres at Shanthinagar, Shivajinagar, Yeshwanthpur, Banashankari, Jayanagar, at the Sampige Road Metro station and near Royal Meenakshi Mall.

However, the government has reportedly shown little enthusiasm for scaling up the project to a level where it is commercially viable for the provider.

“For three years now, we are maintaining the setup put in place during the pilot project, but we have not monetised it, nor were we able to get any advertisement revenue from it as the services are too limited, and we are contemplating pulling back,“ Sathyanarayana was further quoted as saying.

Priyank Kharge, state IT-BT minister told Bangalore Mirror that the department was exploring the idea of asking the telecom service providers to directly provide free public Wi-Fi services.

Kharge added that a viable option would be set up after speaking to the service provider.

He said that the installations needed for setting up free public Wi-Fi hotspots involve a lot of infrastructure.

“So we are envisaging a wireless model as a part of which, model aerial towers will be installed to provide the service without getting into hassles of laying huge layer of fibre optical cables. In 10-15 days, I will be holding a meeting of all stakeholders to decide over the matter,” he added.​

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