State-owned telecoms provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has unveiled plans to launch 1,000 high speed Wi-Fi hotspots in Kerala to augment its mobile data services in the absence of 4G infrastructure. The Economic Times quotes BSNL’s head for the circle, R Mani as saying that BSNL is going to begin the process of entering the 4G space from March this year, but: ‘in between we are launching 1,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the state, which will give 4.5G [equivalent] speed. This will give better speed than 4G.’ The sites are set to be active within the next month and will be deployed in areas where the operator’s 3G network is experiencing high levels of traffic.
In a related development, the government has announced that it will begin providing free wireless broadband services via Wi-Fi hotspots in more than 1,000 gram panchayats (villages or small towns). The move is in support of the administration’s drive towards a cashless economy – facilitating the use of alternative payment methods – as well as providing consumers with access to telemedicine and education tools. The project is expected to cost INR4.233 billion (USD62.17 million).