Ever been in a situation when you badly needed to check your mail, access Google maps, or browse something interesting online, but poor mobile data connectivity wouldn’t just let you do that? Well, we have all been through this experience at some point. But what if we always had a second option for internet connectivity? What if we didn’t have to rely on mobile data only to access the internet at all times? Better still, what if this option was for free?
If Google’s announcement of providing free and high-speed WiFi access to railway commuters at over 400 stations in India is any sign, then this dream isn’t far from reality! And while Google aims to provide broadband quality experience to users, while also ensuring wide coverage and high capacity, many other companies are setting up WiFi zones to help people stay connected, by overcoming the limitations of mobile phone bandwidth.
A rapidly growing market like India, with a growing number of people with advanced smartphones and everyone wanting to stay connected is facilitating wide adoption of public WiFi services and hotspots. It comes as no surprise then that the government plans to offer free WiFi in 2,500 cities and towns across the country.
Did you know that Malpe beach in Udupi, Karnataka is the first beach in India to offer free WiFi connectivity? Quite a few buses, bus stops, train and metro stations too provide the facility now. Unfortunately, not many know about these developments and therefore, are unable to avail these services. In this blog, we will look at 5 common locations where you can find free WiFi in India. Let’s get started:
Last month, Mumbai Central became the first station in the country to get a free high-speed public WiFi service. By the end of this year, over 100 stations in India will have free, high-speed WiFi access – preparations for this are already on in a few cities.The overall plan includes providing free WiFi at over 400 stations in India. Google has partnered with Railtel Corporation to make this project, that is the world’s largest free public WiFi project, a reality. Following is a WiFi map of the first 100 stations that will provide free WiFi connection.
In case you are wondering what Railtel is, it is the PSU which owns a pan-India optic fiber network exclusively on railway tracks. It has laid out over 45,000 kms of optic fibre networks across the country, which Google will utilise for its WiFi. It is important to note that Google’s free WiFi will only work at platforms and is not meant for trains.
A few metro stations such as the Rajiv Chowk and Kashmere Gate metro stations in Delhi too provide free WiFi services. Named ‘Metro-Fi’, the new service lets passengers access internet services free of cost for a total duration of 30 minutes in a day.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) recently introduced free WiFi hotspots at 13 of its largest bus stations across Karnataka, making it the first state transport in India to do so at such a scale. The move is expected to benefit more than one lakh passengers daily.
The service has been made available at KSRTC bus stations in Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, Madikeri, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Dharmasthala, Mangaluru, Kundapura, Shivamogga, Harihara, Davangere and Tumakuru. It will be extended to Kolar and Chitradurga bus stations soon.
At these stations, WiFi coverage extends up to 80 meters around the router at each station’s inquiry counter. The connection lasts for either one hour or 100 MB of usage, whichever comes first. This is well enough for travelers to book last-minute lodging, get oriented in a new city or snap a quick Instagram photo.
Other cities too are warming up to this idea. While free WiFi services were launched in six public transport buses in New Delhi recently, the Atal Indore City Transport Services Limited (AICTSL) too announced its plans to provide free WiFi services to commuters at BRTS (bus rapid transit system) stops in and around Indore. Through the project, BRTS aims to encourage people, especially youth to use public transport.
Quite a few airports in India provide free WiFi facility. These include New Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport), Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji international Airport), Bengaluru (Kempegowda International Airport), Chennai, Hyderabad, Madurai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Amritsar and Bhopal among others.
Apart from these, the state-run BSNL is working to provide WiFi services at more airports managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). AAI manages 121 airports in the country including 11 international airports and has already partnered with Tata Teleservices to provide WiFi services at some airports.
Most of you would already know that all Barista outlets in India provide free WiFi. Most tier 1 and tier 2 cities have a plethora of restaurants and cafes that offer this facility. To make it easier for you, we have compiled a list of top cafes in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore so that whenever you happen to visit any of these cities, you know where to grab that cup of coffee!
Public WiFi Zones:
In its race towards going digital and projecting itself as a technology savvy country, administrations in seven cities across India have launched public WiFi hotspots in different areas of these cities. Here is a list of 7 such cities and the WiFi hotspots in those cities:
- Bengaluru: India’s infotech capital was the first city in the country to launch a free public Wifi facility, named ‘Namma WiFi’ which is available at five specific locations. The five locations are MG Road, Shanthi Nagar bus station, Yeshwantpur bus station, Koramangala bus station and CMH Road, Indiranagar. The project allows users to browse up to three hours a day and download up to 50 MB of data.
- Ahmedabad: Eight locations across the city come under the purview of free WiFi, these include Gandhi Ashram, Civil hospital, Iskon Mall, Drive-in, Madhupura Market,Kankaria Lake, Karnavati Club and Science city. The Gujarat government, under the aegis of Reliance Jio, is planning to do the same in other cities of the state.
- Patna: Bihar beat Beijing by launching the world’s longest corridor (20 kms) of free WiFi connectivity. This free WiFi zone extends between NIT-Patna on Ashok Rajpath to Danapur.
- Kolkata: Reliance Jio introduced its first WiFi connection at 4G speed at Park Street and adjoining Russell Street, the posh party hub of Kolkata. The service was extended to Gariahat-Golpark road and Jadavpur 8B bus stand later.
- Lucknow: Hazratganj WiFi hotspot in Lucknow is the country’s latest free public hotspot. It is open for free use for 20 minutes per day.
- New Delhi: When New Delhi Municipal Council kickstarted its ambitious project of creating Free WiFi zones in the city, Khan Market situated in Central Delhi was the first public place to have one. Besides this, N-Block area in Connaught Place also has free WiFi.
- Mumbai: Mumbai got its first public WiFi hotspot at Shivaji Park in Dadar. Besides this the metro trains and stations in Mumbai already have free WiFi connectivity. Soon, Mumbai State Transport buses will also avail the service.
Thus, there is no dearth of free WiFi hotspots in India, it’s just a matter of finding one and connecting to it. But wait, is it that easy?
Connecting to free WiFi is not all that easy!
While having a number of hotspots is a great sign, we all know it’s not that simple to connect to WiFi on the go. You might see a list of WiFi networks on your settings screen, but using one seldom seems to be as straightforward as it ought to be. You wouldn’t know which of those networks is free. And even if you figure out a free hotspot, you need to figure out the password and where to get it from. Not to forget the lengthy web pages you need to fill out, get an OTP and enter it, and wait endlessly (read encountering sluggish page loads, accidental typos and more) for the internet to actually connect!
Here’s a solution!
WiFire makes it possible to stay seamlessly connected to WiFi networks wherever you go. No need to type in passwords or fumble around trying to find a good network on your settings screen!
WiFire pops up helpful notifications whenever it can connect you to a public WiFi hotspot. It even logs you in by filling out those cumbersome web forms and plugging in One-Time Passwords (OTPs) automatically!
Also, while quite a few of the above mentioned free WiFi zones are functional, some are not. WiFire is an easy way to instantly find out if these zones are functional or not.
To understand how connecting to free WiFi hotspots with the WiFire app helps you save time for what actually matters, check out this video below: