Denizens of India’s tech hub will soon have free internet daily for an hour. At the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2019, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister C. N. Ashwat Narayan announced the plans to offer free internet daily. “We require nine months to roll out the free internet plan which had been in demand for the last four years,” Narayan said on Wednesday. In order to roll out the project, the state government has joined forces with ACT Fibernet.
The project is estimated to cost Rs 100 crore and people of Bengaluru will get at least 1 hour of free internet service a day. ACT Fibernet has come forward to install the poles, we will charge a nominal fee and offer power supply, Narayan added. While India has significant jump in mobile data consumption, broadband penetration remains considerably low. However, the commercial operations of Reliance JioFiber announced in August is expected to increase home broadband penetration.
By offering free internet services, state government and internet service providers see opportunity to expand home broadband services. A report last year estimated subscriber base of broadband to grow 44 percent. The surge in demand for data is expected to further help grow broadband subscriber base in the country. Google has already made it easier for Indian internet users to connect to data services across 400 railway stations in the country. With internet easily available at railway station, it seems that the internet will soon be available on the streets as well.
It is not clear whether free internet will be available across the city or select posts initially. But, it is a much needed service for Bengaluru, which is referred to as Silicon Valley of India. With a partner like ACT Fibernet, the project seems likely to succeed in deploying free internet access points. ACT is already a major service provider in Bengaluru and it might gain recognition with the new service.
(Written with IANS inputs)