Kejriwal set to finally implement free public Wi-Fi in Delhi just ahead of assembly polls
Following the string of announcements before the Delhi assembly polls in February 2020, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced that the first set of free public Wi-Fi hotspots will go live on December 16.
Delhi is finally going to have free public internet through WiFi hotspots spread across the city, as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the first set of 100 hotspots will be inaugurated on December 16.
The chief minister said that a total of 11,000 hotspots will be installed across the national capital within the next 6 months.
Of the 11,000 WiFi hotspots, 4,000 will be at bus-stops, while the remaining 7,000 across various spots in 70 Assembly segments of the Capital, CM Kejriwal said. Each hotspot will be able to serve as many as 200 users at a time. These hotspots will give free access to 15 gigabytes (GBs) of data per month to a registered user.
This move could be a relief for the consumers as the telecom giants increased their prices for both data and voice services from December 3rd (December 6th, in the case of Jio).
Though this scheme is finally being implemented now, the AAP government had been promising this since 2015. Despite making the promise in their 2015 manifesto, the project missed several deadlines. In August this year as well, the Aam Aadmi Party government had reiterated their promise.
Now it is set to roll out the project months before the Delhi Assembly Polls scheduled in February 2020
.Many critics back then had said that this was 'another of AAP's poll planks' before the assembly elections to woo the voters, but following the apparent success of making bus rides free for women, this could be another move which can increase AAP's popularity amongst Delhiites.
In August CM Kejriwal had said that the Delhi Wi-Fi project is the largest free Wi-Fi project anywhere in the world and that the operating cost would be approximately Rs 100 crore per annum. No major city in India has more than 10,000 hotspots.
Kolkata, for example, has free WiFi in 149 wards in the city. Bengaluru, the first city in India to have free WiFi hotspots is however limited to three hours a day or up to 50 MB data.
This announcement comes a few days after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said that the Delhi government has maintained a revenue surplus over the last five years from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018, despite a fall in Grants-in-Aid to the State from the Centre.
This means that Delhi's fiscal health has improved for such an ambitious project to be implemented by the government.
Earlier, the government had also announced a scheme to make metro rides free for women, which had met with criticism with some speculating its implications on Delhi's finances. While the feasibility of that announcement is being looked into, the AAP government has notably worked towards making electricity, water, and healthcare affordable if not free.