The AAP government on Wednesday finalised the wireless internet hotspot model to provide free Wi-Fi in all residential areas and public places in the capital. For long, the government had been unable to select one of the three models — wireless internet hotspot, fibre cable, and internet vouchers — for the purpose.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal gave the go-ahead for the project to the public works department in a high-level meeting in which advantages and disadvantages of the three models were discussed. Though fibre cable offers the highest internet speed, it comes with limitations like the internet voucher model.
Since it will be a free service, a large number of users are expected with the data traffic also likely to be huge. “According to the conclusions drawn in the meeting, the hotspot model turned out to be the best among the three,” said sources.
Additional chief secretary (PWD) Manoj Parida suggested that the Wi-Fi project be given to the IT department because PWD doesn’t have expertise in IT work. However, Kejriwal overruled it and asked PWD to execute the ambitious project.
“As per the CM’s directions, the department will execute the project. Out of the three models — wireless internet hotspot, fibre cables, and internet vouchers — the hotspot model has been finalised,” Parida told TOI.
Initially, several departments were averse to taking up the project because it demands specialised expertise. The project does not only involve installation but also high-end technical expertise to operationalise and maintain it.
The number of hotspots, speed of internet, total cost and other technical specifications will be known after PWD invites companies to give specifications for the project. “We will invite companies to give us details of cost, technology and technical processes. The government will then float tenders to execute the project,” said an official.
The AAP government in its outcome budget in March set the target of launching the project by March 31, 2019. In the budget for 2018-19, Rs 100 crore was allocated for it. The Wi-Fi project was one of the major pre-poll announcements of AAP, besides CCTV cameras in public places.
The March 2019 target for the launch of the pilot project of the Wi-Fi scheme seems to be a strategic move by the AAP government considering the Lok Sabha polls. Wi-Fi zones across the city will attract the youth and is likely to give the party an advantage in the general election.