Deputy CM Manish Sisodia may preside over the meeting to discuss a roadmap for the Wi-Fi plan
Pratap Vikram Singh | March 3, 2015 | New Delhi
The information technology department of Delhi government plans to hold a stakeholder consultation before it finalises a plan for making Delhi Wi-Fi enabled. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had promised to provide free Wi-Fi in his election manifesto in the run up to February 7 election.
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia is likely to preside over the meeting where in department would discuss a roadmap for the Wi-Fi plan.
In a meeting held on February 21, IT department informed Kejriwal about a few models for providing ‘free’ internet. During presentation, Kejriwal took interest in the New Delhi municipal council (NDMC) model of making city Wi-Fi enabled, wherein all cost is being borne by the private vendor, an official present at the meeting told Governance Now.
There are two projects related to internet being executed by the NDMC: free Wi-Fi and nextgen digital services. As part of its ‘free Wi-Fi’ project, the council has given a few locations, including Connaught Place and Khan Market, to telecom cum internet service providers for offering wireless internet. The telecom services providers offer 20 minutes of free internet per user per day. A user has to pay if he/she wants to use the internet for more than 20 minutes.
Under nextgen digital services project, the council plans to convert 3,000 street light poles out of 18,500 poles (falling in the council area) into smart poles with the help of vendor. These poles would act as telecom towers with lower radiation level, said Mishra. Poles would also have CCTV cameras which will be networked to a control room of the NDMC. The pole cum tower infrastructure will be open to all telecom service providers who can use it to provide their services.
NDMC will provide power, permission for laying fibre (right of way) to the vendor. This will reduce its upfront and recurring expenditure. It will also bear the cost of managing, maintaining and operating CCTV cameras and LED lights installed on street poles. The vendor will not have to pay rent for any of these poles for 20 years. In turn the vendor would create this infrastructure without taking a single penny from the government. The pole infrastructure will be leased to telcos for providing Wi-Fi services.
The tendering process is almost complete. Reliance Jio and Indus Towers have participated in the bidding process. Apparently Indus has made the highest bid, promising government one-time fee of Rs 27 crore.
The IT department officials are of the view that street light poles can be monetised and shouldn’t be given for free to telecom or infrastructure companies. The model, though, has certainly caught everyone’s attention.
Reliance Jio Infocomm, a major player in high-speed wireline and wireless services, has piloted 4G Wi-Fi services in few cities. It plans to offer high speed internet in 900 cities eventually.
As of now Wi-Fi services are free in selected locations in Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda and Kolkata. As of now the company is trying to study the usage pattern, it will accordingly draft a pricing policy for its services, said Reliance Jio officials.
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