Will it work this time?

Will it work this time?

Last month, all those who work in and visit the two major shopping destinations in Bangalore –– MG Road and Brigade Road –– were in for a surprise. For, they could log in to the free wi-fi service provided by the IT department. The idea is the brainchild of Mohandas Pai, the former director of Infosys. It was later implemented by the IT department and is currently in its pilot phase. It will soon be a reality at many other hotspots in the City.

Currently handled by a private service provider, the service can be accessed for two hours from the time of registration. And the speed of the service will be up to 256 kbps. However, there will be no provision to download or watch videos. Now, with most people possessing a smart phone with internet facilities, this service comes as a delight for many shoppers, including students, who visit the place often.

Though it will still take time for the project to officially launch, the reaction and concerns of the consumers during this brief pilot test-run have been positive. Most of them are very happy with this move, especially students.

Krishnan, a student, says that the move will be welcomed by all. “Both these roads are always bustling with people and are home to many cafes as well. Since it’s free, it will surely help the youngsters to stay connected,” he adds.

Arpitha, a professional, says that the wi-fi will not only help the young but tourists and outsiders as well. “Both these roads have many foreigners and non-Bangaloreans. Now, this service can help them with directions within the area and to locate their favourite stores there,” she adds.

While there has been a positive response, there have also been a few who have raised few pressing concerns about the same — one of the biggest being security. Raghuram, a student, says, “A major concern is intrusion by anti-social elements and hackers, which is impossible to trace under the free wi-fi model. The provider has to be clear about how to protect the mobile phones with this service.”

While Bangaloreans are excited about the project, the situation at the department of information technology is unfortunately rather sad. In fact, none of the officers are even aware of basic information like when the project will start officially and which other areas they plan to expand the project to.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that the City is experiencing something like this. Back in late 2010, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) had planned to launch free wi-fi service in their Vayu Vajra Bus service between ITPL and the airport. Users could access this service through a 7” LCD screen fixed behind every seat. After the success on the initial route, the service was to be extended to other routes and around 200 buses were supposed to be inducted into this service. The service, however, disappeared faster than it started — the hype didn’t last more than a few months. But it made headlines! “And who knows if this service too will fall flat even before it takes off,” opines Shweta, a professional.

With rising problems like traffic, garbage, and poor infrastructure haunting Bangalore, freebies like wi-fi don’t really seem to be something that will make a huge difference in the City right now. Or will it?

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