Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots

When the Karnataka government launched free Wi-Fi at six commercial hotspots in Bengaluru around two years back, the announcement was greeted with much cheer and enthusiasm. The project allowed a person to browse up to three hours a day and download up to 50 MB of data. Touted to be the first of its kind in India, public Wi-Fi cemented the position of Bengaluru as the IT capital of the country and heralded the arrival of the digital Indian.

Fast forward to 2016 now. More buildings have come up, the Metro has extended its reach, the roads are chock-a-block with vehicles and a smartphone is counted among the bare necessities of life. Among all this change, government initiatives remain a pillar of certainty. Their fate has been the same over the years — started with much pomp and then allowed to fizzle out quietly.

Says Shweta Bhatt, “When the service was initially started, I did use the Wi-Fi for some time. The signal was very weak and almost non-existent but at least it was there. Many people complained about the speed and quality but everyone agreed that the initiative was a good one. However, we don’t know when the service was stopped completely. Nowadays, when I try to access the Wi-Fi at Brigade Road, there is no connection.”
For Natasha D’Souza, a professional, this comes as no surprise. “I remember the headlines the day after the service was launched. It was about how the service was not very successful on the first day itself. So one can imagine the state after two years. Most people are not even aware of the fact that something like a public Wi-Fi exists here.”

 The service was supposed to work like this — once the user enters the Wi-Fi enabled zone, he can register on the network after which an authentication password will be sent to his mobile number. If one tries to log into the network now, for example at MG Road metro station, they will see that they have been connected to the ‘I-ON Namma Wi-Fi’ or ‘ION Wi-Fi’ but there is no signal for the service. Basically, you are signed onto a wireless internet network which does not have any internet.

S Sharath, a regular commuter on the metro, does not even have an idea about a free public Wi-Fi facility. “I did not know there was something like this. It seems like a very good idea in today’s age where connectivity is of paramount importance. I wish the
government had followed up on this.”

Says Ammu Nair, a professional, “It is not a problem for people like us who have data packs and office Wi-Fi. But it would have greatly helped the others. I think the project was started on a pilot basis for five spots in the city and then was supposed to be extended to cover a much larger area. But they could not maintain the project even on a smaller scale with such slow speeds.”

Adds Natasha, “There were many other plans too. The government had announced that they will develop applications to enable the public to see if parking space is available in commercial areas like MG Road and Brigade Road. This idea was tied up with the wireless internet initiative. I suppose we can forget about this too.”