Mumbai can now boast not only of being the city with largest public Wi-Fi service in India but also one of the largest in the world.
Mumbai can now boast not only of being the city with largest public Wi-Fi service in India but also one of the largest in the world. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today announced that 500 Wi-Fi hotspots have gone live across Mumbai under the phase 1 of Mumbai Wi-Fi project. “#MumbaiWifi is India’s largest Public WiFi service & one of the largest globally too,” Fadnavis tweeted. He also announced that 1200 WiFi hotspots will become active by May 1, 2017.
Mumbai’s achievement, however, didn’t bring much joy to Delhites who were promised free Wi-Fi by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in 2015. Twitterati were quick to highlight Delhi’s failure even as they congratulated the Maharashtra CM.
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) January 9, 2017
Providing free Wi-Fi to residents of the National Capital was one of the most talked about poll promises made by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal before 2015 Assembly Election in Delhi. After coming to power, Kejriwal government showed signs that it was sincere about its promise. A PTI report on May 24, 2015 said Delhi government planned to make free Wi-Fi with some restrictions available for Delhites by February 2016. However, the plan couldn’t take shape in time.
On February 12, 2016, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, told The Indian Express that free Wi-Fi plan was still a work in progress. Sisodia said the government was hiring consultants to study crucial aspects of the project. “A project of such a large scale cannot be implemented overnight…” he had said. The report said that Delhi government’s IT departments had identified 3,000 hotspot zones in the city way back in July 2015.
In June 2014, The Quint reported AAP leader Ashish Khetan as saying that Delhi government would activate 1000 Wi-Fi hotspots at 571 location in East Delhi as part of the first phase of the project by the end of December 2016.
.@ArvindKejriwal Govt set to roll out 1000 wifi hot spot zones in East Delhi. It will be the largest public wifi project in the world.
— Ashish Khetan (@AashishKhetan) June 24, 2016
Kejriwal government’s free Wi-Fi promise is something Delhites, especially the youth, has so far refused to forget. This was also one of the most talked about question a Delhi resident had asked Kejriwal when he started his first ‘Talk to AK’ programme to interact with people of the city. Kejriwal had said it would take 2-3 years for complete rollout of the project. However, the Delhi government would activate a network of hotspots in east Delhi by December-January.
December is gone and with the Delhi CM busy monitoring and campaigning for the 2017 Assembly elections, it is highly unlikely that Delhites would realise their free Wi-Fi wish soon.
Keeping all poll promises is not something Arvind Kejrwal-led Delhi government or the Aam Aadmi Party can boast of. However, one hopes Kejriwal would take a leaf out of Maharashtra government’s success and give Delhi, nothing but what he has promised.