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How Free Hotspots are Transforming India

In India, efforts are being made to get the country online and make it Internet friendly. Be it the government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative or ‘Smart City’ project, extending the reach of digital access is what the authorities are aiming for. A number of companies and institutions too are coming together for this purpose.

As per a 2016 report, most of the public Wi-Fi hotspots are found in various places:
·         58 percent found in retail outlets, shopping malls, coffee shops, and restaurants
·         41 percent found in hotels
·         0.5 percent found in railway stations and airports

As a part of the Digital India initiative, a number of projects have been undertaken. Some of them are:
·         Google-railway hotspots
Google and Railtel have started on a project, which is termed as the fastest and biggest Wi-Fi project in the world. This project started after Indian Railways announced its partnership with Google in September 2015. As per this project, Google has set up hotspots over 115 stations in the country. This includes the stations of Mumbai Central, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Bareilly, Howrah, Mathura, and Aligarh, among others. This project uses Google’s Fiber technology, which can carry data at a speed of 1 Gbps.

·         Indian Railways kiosks
Indian Railways has decided to set kiosks at around 500 stations for better connectivity in remote areas. These kiosks will have Wi-Fi access and let people use services like online banking, online shopping, booking e-tickets for trains and buses, insurance schemes, government schemes, and more.

·         Mumbai Wi-Fi
In the beginning of 2017, public hotspots were set up across Mumbai by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The service is free up to a 100 MBs, following which users will be charged. These Wi-Fi hotspots were set up across 500 locations, which include railway stations, educational institutes, important junctions, as well as tourist spots. The Wi-Fi name is Aaple_Sarkar_Mum-Wifi and its locations are uploaded on the Aaple Sarkar government portal. Users will have to use their mobile numbers to complete the log in process. Post that, they will receive a One-Time Password (OTP), which when filled will give access to the Internet.

·         Facebook and BSNL
Facebook Inc. in cooperation with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) planned to set up public Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas across the country with an aim to attract new users and introduce the world of high-speed Internet to them.

With high-speed Internet coming across to the masses, people will reap several benefits. Some of these are:
1. Widespread education
With free Internet, users get access to a huge chunk of educational material. They may educate themselves online via different courses, read books, refer journals, and seek knowledge from the experts. A number of people may gain knowledge and develop skills via correspondence from some of the best institutions in the country.

2. Shopping on the go
With everything going online, businesses won’t lag behind. Online selling widely increases a supplier’s reach across geographical areas. It also helps buyers choose whatever they need at any time and from anywhere. So, there is no need to keep aside time just for shopping. 

3. Paperless economy
As people start making transactions online, booking e-tickets, paying insurance premiums, and a whole lot more; the reliance on paper for all of these purposes is going to reduce. This will give a boost to transparent, paperless economy. This is also good for the environment as it lessens the number of trees being cut to make paper for the above.

With the ongoing development of the 4G networks and technologies, it is certain that these Wi-Fi hotspots would provide a host of opportunities to the general public and drive the country’s progress. 

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