In a bid to benefit millions of Internet users and connect the next billion users, global networking giant Cisco has teamed up with Google to roll out free, high-speed public Wi-Fi access globally, starting with India.
The first pilot under the partnership has been rolled out at 35 locations in Bengaluru, Cisco said in Kochi on Monday, adding that it will work with Google's "Station Platform" to provide communities around the country access to high-speed public Wi-Fi.
By September this year, 200 locations in Bengaluru will be Wi-Fi enabled, followed by another 300 in the second phase, the two technology giants said at the "Cisco India Summit" in Kochi.
The locations include public spaces like bus stops, hospitals and government offices, etc.
Google said that it was committed to make the service secure.
"It will run on https environment -- the same environment in which you do online banking transactions," Sajith Sivanandan, Managing Director and Business Head, Google Pay and "Next Billion User Initiatives", India, told reporters in Kochi.
"The service will be supported by advertisements. We will think of more products to make the service commercially available".
According to Cisco, the vision behind rolling out this service is that Internet should be a fundamental right in this country.
"Moving from slow to high-speed Internet access will increase user engagement and benefit millions of Internet users throughout the economic spectrum. The success of digitization and digital citizen services is also closely tied to the proliferation of high-speed internet," said Sameer Garde, President, Cisco India & Saarc.
"This also represents a significant growth opportunity, the demand for public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to go up by 100X over the next 3 years, creating new markets for Cisco and our partners," he added.
Currently, about half a billion people in India are online, while 800 million are still not connected to the Internet.
According to a TRAI report, globally, there is on Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 people, and in India, eight million additional hotspots must be installed to achieve the same ratio -- creating new market opportunities for infrastructure providers and internet service providers.
India has only 52,000 Wi-Fi hotspots today, necessitating a proactive strategy to make high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots ubiquitous across the country.
"It is an important partnership from the context of furthering the vision of Digital India, by making hi-speed public Wi-FI as pervasive as possible in congested city settings," Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research, told IANS.
According to the Cisco VNI (Visual Networking Index) report, nearly 59 per cent of Internet traffic will be offloaded from cellular networks to Wi-Fi by 2022.
"The Cisco-Google partnership brings together the expertise of Cisco in network infrastructure, and Google in providing seamless broadband experience, and expertise in developing vernacular web content and platform innovations. The partnership aims at bringing hi-speed public Wi-Fi to the next billion mobile users, a cohort that includes unconnected and under-connected Indians across highly-congested city locations," Ram explained.
(Gokul Bhagabati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)