In a bid to set up more than 35000 public Wi- Fi hotspots by March 2018, State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has awarded India's largest engineering and construction company Larsen & Toubro Ltd, worth Rs 1,000 crore.
"We have decided to roll out phase two of the programme through our own capex (capital expenditure) model to deploy 35,500 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country by March 2018," BSNL Chairman Anupam Shrivastava told ET.
Through these hotspots BSNL is aiming to offer data services at speeds faster than those offered over 4G technology.
"Equipment has been already procured and installation will start this month," Shrivastva said. L&T together with UTStarcom, Elitecore and Cisco will provide hardware solutions," he added.
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"We have successfully installed 4,500 Wi-Fi hotspots to test the technology. Data sessions of our mobile customers can be transferred seamlessly to Wi-Fi network which works as a 4G hotspot," Shrivastava said.
The Wi-Fi programme is one of the company's major focussed area as it plans to transform the country with affordable internet access.
BSNL plans to set up 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country by the year 2018. BSNL is already offering Wi-Fi services in tourists places such as the Taj Mahal, Khajuraho and Varanasi. The first 30 minutes of Wi-Fi connectivity is free, after which users will have to pay between Rs 20 to Rs 70 for access between half an hour to a day. The free thirty minute access is provided three times a month per user.
Recently, the company has partnered with Tata Communications to provide its customers access to 44 million Wi-Fi hotspots globally. The hotspots allow seamless and automatic connectivity for BSNL customers with international roaming, and are an effort to save data costs on behalf of the customers.