Reliance Jio wants to give free Wi-Fi to college students, 3 crore may benefit
After announcing free phones, Reliance Jio now wants to provide free Wi-Fi to three crore college students across the country.
According to sources in the government, the company has submitted a proposal in this regard to the human resource development (HRD) ministry.
Sources further said that the proposal is being examined by the ministry and a final decision is yet to be taken. However, officials said any such proposal will have to go through a transparent tender process.
Last month, a proposal was received by the ministry in which Reliance Jio expressed a desire to connect close to 38,000 colleges (technical and non-technical) under the HRD ministry across India by deploying free Wi-Fi connectivity.
“Through this free access to Wi-Fi, all students will be able to get internet connection and use educational resources such as online courses available on SWAYAM platform through the National Knowledge Network. The company plans to create hotspots for this,” a source said.
This is the first time the ministry has received a proposal of this kind from a telecom service provider. The government, therefore, wants to ensure other providers have a ‘fair chance’.
“Though they (Reliance) are not charging us any money for this project, we can’t approve it without giving a fair chance to others. A tender will be floated so that it is a fair and transparent process,” added the source.
Reliance Jio had last month made a presentation before the ministry regarding its plans.
When contacted by HT, Jio’s representatives refused to comment on the issue.
Significantly, even the HRD ministry’s proposal to provide free Wi-Fi to central universities, which has been in the pipeline for quite some time, is also likely to take off this year. HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had recently announced that 38 universities would be made Wi-Fi enabled by August 31 this year.