Welcome Step to Address WiFi Challenge in Cities - The New Indian Express

Welcome Step to Address WiFi Challenge in Cities

Published: 25th January 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 25th January 2014 01:02 AM

You are on Mahatma Gandhi Road, the main street of Bangalore which is slowly regaining its famous charm. A meeting falls through, and you have time to kill. You wonder what movies are playing in the area. If you have a cell phone with WiFi capability, you can now get the information without incurring additional charges. Namma WiFi, which was inaugurated on Friday, is also available at five other locations, including three bus stations. The procedure is simple enough: You open the Namma WiFi page in your browser and type in your mobile number. You will get a password that will let you browse free for up to three hours a day. If you use an android phone, an app is available.

While Bangalore is said to be the first city in India to offer free wireless Internet access in public places, our Silicon Plateau is only just catching up with tech hotspots and more humble towns in other parts of the world. By one recent count, nearly 60 US cities offer what is called “municipal WiFi”. Los Angeles is working on a proposal to build a citywide WiFi network to stimulate economic growth. In South Korea, free WiFi services are available across the country.

Mohandas Pai, the former Infosys director who headed the committee that came up with the idea for the service in Bangalore, says the aim is to provide seamless Internet access to the growing number of smartphone users. Initial reports from the spot said connectivity was patchy, but then it was the first day. The plan is to extend the service to other parts of the city and then to Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad and other cities in Karnataka. For now, the service provider is sponsoring access; the mandarins must build on a good beginning by finding ways to make the service self-sustaining.

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