With the Mumbai civic polls scheduled early next year, all major public places in the city are likely to turned into WiFi zones by mid-January, according to an ambitious plan drawn up by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government.
The state government has set a target of completing the first phase of the project — WiFi hotspots at 500 locations — by November 15 itself. Overall, the city will have 1,500 WiFi hotspots. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis recently sanctioned Rs194 crore for the project’s first phase.
According to the plan, residents will be able to use WiFi services free of cost for a maximum download limit of 100 megabytes (MB) a day a user, or for 30 minutes a day, whichever is earlier. All e-governance mobile applications of the BMC, state government and Union government will be available all day for free, unlimited use at these hotspots. For web browsing outside of government applications, the service will have to be paid for after 100MB.
He added, there will be a separate web portal and mobile app to register and authenticate details for WiFi access, and people will be able to move seamlessly from one WiFi hotspot in the city to another using the same log-in details.
The project’s first phase is likely to cover mainly prime tourist and public recreation spots such as Gateway of India, Chowpatty, curve of the Queen’s necklace at Marine Drive promenade, Siddhivinayak Temple, Hanging Gardens and so on, an official from the state’s department of information technology said.
“We are yet to finalise the exact locations of the 500 hotspots. Since we want to complete the installation fast, we are choosing spots where poles for surveillance cameras already exist as part of the Mumbai CCTV project. Among these, we will freeze on those locations where the service providers and equipment provider can easily start WiFi services without having to lay out additional infrastructure, which will be time consuming. But all the locations will be those where there is a large footfall and where people are known to come and spend some time,” the official said.
In the second phase, the state government will also look at installing WiFi hotspots atop public buildings and government offices, the official said.
The government has already invited bids from WiFi service providers to set up the hotspots at the proposed locations, setting tight deadlines for the tendering process in its race to complete the project before the model code of conduct for elections kicks in in January. Potential bidders have been given just three days to submit their tenders, while the contractor will be given just one week from the date of the work order to supply the required equipment.