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January 29, 2015

Fabulous response as Kolkata gears up to be India’s first Wi-Fi city

Fabulous response as Kolkata gears up to be India’s first Wi-Fi city

From students to professionals, restaurateurs to smartphone sellers, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Wi-Fi plan has touched every Kolkatan.

Thanks to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement of the roll-out of Wi-Fi service, Netizens are all geared up to take a big leap into the virtual world.

But they will have to wait a little longer – two months to be precise – before they can log on.

Reliance Jio, that will be offering the service, says they will begin the roll-out in March and cover the whole of Kolkata in a year.

To begin with, users will not have to pay anything for the first two months. And they can log on without much effort. All that they must do is click on the Wi-Fi option, after which they will receive an SMS asking their e-mail ID. A password will be mailed to them.

Park Street apart, Wi-Fi signal will be available in Loudon Street, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and Mirza Ghalib Street. The rest of Kolkata will be covered in phases, according to Reliance JIO.

“We will expand the area in phases and that might take up to a year. We will offer 4G services and anyone with a Wi-Fi option in the device can log on. But even as we expand the area, we will launch schemes. So, you could expect free services for the first 4-5 months,” said a Reliance JIO spokesperson.

Park Street is excited about the roll-out.

Once it happens, you can log on to the Net from anywhere in the area – pavements, staircases or cafeterias. Flurys executive chef Vikas Singh believes it will change the perception about Kolkata. “In London, I have used hotspots where Wi-Fi is offered free and advertized. People tend to gather in these areas. That it is happening to Park Street, is a big thing. For a tea shop and confectionery like Flurys, it will obviously be great as our patrons are used to staying connected while on the go,“ said Singh.

Wi-Fi will free Net-users from the bondage of restricted connectivity promises to bring about a significant change, especially for youngsters. Students could be surfing the Net even in college corridors and canteens. “It will be so much easier with Wi-Fi. We won’t need to carry a dongle any more,“ said Srobona Basu, a St. Xavier’s student.

Tourists from abroad are delighted as well. “Free data services will obviously be a blessing for budget travellers like me. I guess hundreds of travellers will be benefitted for many check into hotels near Park Street where the service is going to be available. Voice calls are expensive so we look for cheap Internet access,” said Corline, a tourist from Canada.

Dealers of smart devices are looking forward to the roll-out with optimism. A Wi-Fi enabled city will definitely encourage more to log on to the Internet, they feel. But they also realize that the impact may not be immediate. “This is tailor-made for youngsters who love to stay connected on the move. Now everyone has a smartphone. More will now opt for larger Internet-enabled devices like tablets,“ predicted Pulkit Vaid, Director, Great Eastern Appliances.

Kapil Gupta, owner of Konnect, ­ another city electronic outlet, ­ felt connectivity could be an issue in the initial stages. “With so many logging in at the same time, the network can get clogged. Most potential users are Net subscribers already. So, they will be tempted to gauge the quality of service and also the charges. In case both are good, there’s no reason why people won’t be availing the service,“ said Gupta.

IIT-Kharagpur professor AN Samanta was upbeat with the prospect of a Wi-Fi environment, but he sounded cautious. “It will help those carrying smartphones and laptops, but security remains a concern. I hope the government will take care of security issues.”