KOCHI:The nation may be on its way towards the 5G era, but the free Wi-Fi network is non-existent in the city. With low speed and weak signals, the free Wi-Fi services that provide satisfactory results are considerably low in Kochi.
In a survey conducted by Express around the major free Wi-Fi zones in the city, it was found that none of the major free Wi-Fi providers including the BSNL and the Kerala Government Wi-Fi service, was able to live up to expectations.
It is the BSNL free Wi-Fi service that disappoints the most. "The Wi-Fi shows range in my phone. But I am unable to connect," said a student who tried to access it near
High Court Junction.
Though there were signals at some spots in the city, the net speed was too slow, forcing the users to be content with 1 Mb/s instead of the promised 2Mb to 20Mb/s.
Of the 10 locations where Kochi Corporation, BSNL and Quadgen Wireless Solutions had launched a 24x7 Wi-Fi, only Kaloor managed to be worthy of its free Wi-Fi status while Edapally and DH Road scarcely managed flickering signals.
The rest of the locations include Kochi Corporation office, Civil Station, Subhash Park, Marine Drive, High Court Junction, Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, of which the latter two areas have zero network.
Though there is a provision in BSNL to pay for the network after 30 minutes, the recharge can only be done by net banking and not coupons. The 300m radius claim also proved to be a fallacy.
However, the BSNL authorities have a different claim. "All the Wi-Fi networks are well monitored according to data usage. There is no problem of unavailability. The speed fluctuates depending on the number of users," they added.
In comparison, the Kerala Government free Wi-Fi systems have a better speed and accessibility; promising a total of 300 MB to each user per day. But the hotspots are few and none of the sites has boards that indicated the presence of Wi-Fi.
Ignorance a bliss?
The ignorance of the public about the facilities actually help the providers keep up the facade of a free network. "There is no Wi-Fi here, none that we know of," said a group of students near Subhash Park. The same doubt was expressed by a Councillor.
In fact, most people are still not aware of the free Wi-Fi facility in their locality. "I had no idea that we had free Wi-Fi service here. I don't think it will be much effective as even paid net connections have a poor reception here," says the owner of a juice shop in Fortkochi.
Smart Wi-Fi bus stops
The plight of the smart Wi-Fi bus stops inaugurated three years back at Elamakkara, Pallimukku Vathurithy, and St. Teresa's College, is no better as the Wi-Fi facilities have been terminated within a year. "The MLA fund allows me only to grant amounts for building an infrastructure. The maintenance of the bus stops and associated Wi-Fi services have to be funded by the Corporation or any other organization," Hibi Eden replied when asked about the inactive Wi-Fi services.
Some Major Wi-Fi sites And Available Data Speed
Location Available Speed (Guaranteed speed is 2Mb/s - 20 Mb/s)
Subhash Park 1 Mb/s
DH Road 1 Mb/s
General Hospital 2 Mb/s
St. Teresa's College 1 Mb/s
Menaka 1 Mb/s
High Court 1 Mb/s