The launch of Wi-Fi hotspots under the rural broadband project ‘BharatNet’ has seen 190 per cent jump in data usage to 95 terabyte in six months of the service, as per an official report. A DoT report said that as on April 30 this year, “190 per cent increase in data consumption has been recorded during the last six months in rural areas where broadband internet is provided through Wi-Fi hotspots running on BharatNet Infrastructure”. The government has completed the roll out of the BharatNet project in over 1 lakh gram panchayats and aims to cover the rest of 1.5 lakh GPs by the end of this year, it said. “While the first half of last twelve months saw a data consumption of around 33 TB, the second half witnessed a consumption of around 95 TB,” the report said.
The government is providing Wi-Fi hotspots service, known as (Wifi Choupal) in 7,183 gram panchayats (GPs) under the BharatNet project in 12 states and Union Territories — Bihar, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The Wi-Fi choupals have been launched by DoT in partnership with CSC-SPV, which runs common service centres in rural areas. “High speed data at cheap price is the main reason for increase in consumption, and it has been also reported that people are leaving their 3G and 4G data services for Wi-Fi Choupal service. This shows there is huge demand for data in rural area, and opportunity needs to be provided,” said an official.
Under BharatNet, Wi-Fi service users are getting 12 GB of data for Rs 100 with 28 days validity. Small packs of 500 MB, 2GB and 4.5 GB for Rs 10, Rs 25 and Rs 50 respectively, with validity of 10-28 days, are also available. While mobile operators are providing low cost data these days but validity of those small data plans is too low.
“The benefit of Wi-Fi choupals is that if a person has registered in to one of the hotspots, say Bihar, then he can use the service or the plan across any of the Wi-Fi choupals in the country. DoT is working with telecom operators for similar utilisation models in GPs,” the official said. Karnataka at present has largest number of GPs where BharatNet infrastructure is used for Wi-Fi choupal project at 12,978 locations, followed by UP with 10,866 Wi-Fi choupals and MP – 7,896 choupals.