By the Blouin News Technology staff

Wrangling Wi-Fi in India

by in Personal Tech.

School children play the mobile game 'Guardians of the Skies' in New Delhi, India. Getty Images

School children play the mobile game ‘Guardians of the Skies’ in New Delhi, India. Getty Images

With booming numbers of mobile devices comes an increased need for internet connections, and in public spaces those can be hard to find. Various countries are doing their best to deploy wireless internet networks for public areas as the web becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity. And in India — where the number of web-connected devices is soaring by the day — this need is starkly apparent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given rounds of speeches detailing his commitment to elevating India technologically, with internet access and growth a huge part of that devotion (promises for which he has been both praised and criticized). And a myriad of projects aim to make public Wi-Fi a more ubiquitous entity.

Project Nilgiri was announced this month: a collaboration between Indian Railways and Google that will elevate public Wi-Fi on train routes throughout the country. The project aims to create a network of free Wi-Fi across 400 railway stations across the country, and will allow users to access free internet at high speeds for the first 34 minutes of a trip. The speed will reduce after that. The first phase will launch hotspots at 400 stations across a span of four months.

Google isn’t the only overseas entity to have interest in Indian Wi-Fi. This week, British telco New Call announced that it acquired Ozone Networks, an Indian public wi-fi startup that has deployed 2,000 public wi-fi hotspots since its inception in 2008 in various major cities. Tech in Asia reports that Ozone claims 2.5 million people connect to its hotspots every month.

But Wi-Fi innovations aren’t just left to tech titans and collaborations with already-established broadband giants. Smaller companies and entrepreneurs are creating ways to combine Wi-Fi needs and other urban needs. Reports in August detailed the “WiFi Trash Bin,” a concept from two Mumbai-based inventors which combines the demand for internet access and environmental cleanliness. People that throw trash into the bin will receive a code which can then be used through devices to gain access to a free Wi-Fi connection. The invention has been rolled out at some music festivals.

Speaking of festivals, Reliance Jio — an Indian telco — announced this week that it will be providing a free, unlimited Wi-Fi service dubbed Jionet at select pandals (sites of religious worship) in Mumbai during the festival Ganesh Utsav which lasts for 10 days, beginning September 17.

It appears as though a myriad of both small- and large-scale projects are targeting India’s growing need for public internet access. Hopefully, they can catch up to the country’s rapidly growing mobile technology industry.