Digital India has been one of the pet projects of PM Narendra Modi. The initiative launched by the government of India aims to transform the country by increasing internet connectivity while also improving the online infrastructure. After the demonetization of old currency notes, we’re already moving towards the goal of becoming cashless economy. But to realize all those dreams, internet connectivity is a key. In another move to bring internet access to more number of people, the Maharashtra government has deployed 500 public free Wi-Fi hotspots across Mumbai.
Deploying those many number of Wi-Fi hotspots in The first phase is indeed impressive. Commenting on the launch, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted saying, “MumbaiWifi is India’s largest public Wi-Fi service and one of the largest globally too.” He further mentioned that the number is set to go even higher as the government is committed to make 1,200 public Wi-Fi hotspots active by May 1. Fadnavis even mentioned that during the trial run between January 2 and January 8, more than 23,000 users across the city signed up and consumed over 2TB of data.
Locations where MumbaiWiFi hotspot has gone live
While Google has partnered RailTel to offer high-speed internet access to users at various railway stations, Maharashtra government is using state-run MTNL’s network for its public Wi-Fi hotspot deployment. The wide coverage of MTNL’s telephone lines across the city has given the state government an advantage to cover as many locations as possible, and not just some prime spots. ALSO READ: 400 railway stations to have WiFi by next year: Suresh Prabhu
Some places where the free Wi-Fi hotspot has gone line in Mumbai include the bus depots in Bandra and Goregaon, colleges such as Hinduja and Mithibai, tourist places such as the Gateway of India and Marine Drive. Other places include Bhandup, Mulund, Mankhurd, Govandi and Chembur railway stations among others. Even places like Lohar Chawl, Kala Ghoda, Band Stand, Aksa Beach, Gorai Beach, Orlem Church, Mantralaya, Vidhan Bhavan, Versova Jetty, Madh Jetty are covered under MumbaiWiFi. You can find the complete list of public WiFi hotspots here.
How to access MumbaiWiFi?
The process is pretty simple, just like you login at other public Wi-Fi. Turn on Wi-Fi on your smartphone, laptop or tablet at the said locations and you should be able to find a network named “Aaple_Sarkar_Mum-WiFi” in the list. Tap on that and hit connect. Once connected, the web browser will open up asking you to enter your phone number.
If you’re registering for the first time, enter your phone number and hit get SMS, after which you will receive a 4-digit OTP code. In the next screen, the OTP followed by your name and tap on login. In case you are already registered, after connecting to the WiFi network, you will see a welcome screen with your registered mobile number and a login button.
Do remember, this binding is done with your mobile number + phone (IMEI). In case you insert your SIM card in a different phone, you won’t be able to login, nor there is an option to reset your device. This is good from the security point of view, as it will not allow any unauthorized login using your phone number. ALSO READ: Nagpur set to become Wi-Fi enabled city by March 2017
MumbaiWiFi – data speeds and limits
Talking about data speeds, I tested it using Ookla’s Speedtest app. In terms of bandwidth, the app logged peak download speed of close to 22Mbps, and upload speed of 11Mbps. Talking about realistic download speeds, it kept fluctuating between 2.4Mbps to 14.4Mbps. Even though it might not be as fast as the government claims, these are still very impressive speeds.
In terms of limits, you get 2.1GB per day. I was comfortably able to download a 1.5GB file (Ubuntu’s latest build) in approximately 35 minutes. I also tried download torrents and that worked too. After downloading about 1.9GB of data, I received a notification warning SMS saying that I’m closing in the daily limit. But hey, 2.1GB per day on a free public Wi-Fi network is not bad at all.
It’s a pretty good initiative by the Maharashtra government, and the fact that it is trying to cover almost entire city, and not just some prime locations. However, I had initial connectivity issues. I tried at Mankhurd station and Chembur station, and couldn’t get through the login process. On day two, I went to Lokamanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), which was when after initial hiccups (had my SIM card inserted in a different phone), I was able to login and try it out.
In terms of speed, currently not many people are aware about it and using the network, so the speed is impressive. However, it will be interesting to see how the speed, coverage and performance pan out as more people start using the public Wi-Fi hotspot on a daily basis. But remember, the aim of public Wi-Fi hotspot is not to let you download music, movies and other stuff, but to connect the unconnected, who don’t use mobile data packs.