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Fazed by expensive 4G spectrum, BSNL gifting Kerala 1k hotspots

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NEW DELHI: Public sector telco BSNL will launch 1,000 high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots across the state of Kerala to address the challenges posed by its absence in the 4G data services, a top BSNL official has said.

BSNL’s Kerala circle CGM R Mani told reporters that the proposed hotspots would provide 4.5G speed and would be commissioned within a months’ time. Huge cost to buy the 4G spectrum was the hindrance for the state-run service provider to plunge into 4G services, but it is expected to happen by this March, Mani was quoted by a PTI report, carried by Firstpost, as saying, who added that wherever BSNL’s 3G tower experienced a lot of traffic, Wi-Fi hotspots are being put up.

With the commissioning of the hotspots, when a customer is using his mobile phone, his network service would be directly taken over to the Wi-Fi hotspot. “Then, he will not be on 3G… but will be on 4.5G,” the BSNL official is reported to have said. The project is being implemented in collaboration with equipment from Larsen & Toubro.

The official explained that the high cost of 4G spectrum was an impediment for the State-run telco, though the initiative was “under evaluation” at the headquarters in Delhi.

The rollout of 1,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in Kerala is part of an effort to provide Wi-Fi hotspots all across the country. In 2015, it was announced that BSNL would be investing Rs. 7, 0000 million to set up Wi-Fi hotspots across the country over the course of two to three years. BSNL has partnered with QuadGen Wireless to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in south and west zones, under a revenue sharing model.

According to the report, BSNL plans to set up 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country by 2018 and the company already offers Wi-Fi services in tourist destinations such as the Taj Mahal, Khajuraho and Varanasi. The first 30 minutes of Wi-Fi connectivity is free, after which users will have to pay between Rs 20 to Rs 70 for access between 30 minutes to 24 hours. The free access is provided three times a month per user.

Facebook has sponsored 100 hotspots across the country in partnership with BSNL and the social media company (hauled up by the government last year for offering, what the telecom regulator said, services that breached principles of Net Neutrality via Internet.org) is paying BSNL Rs 500,000 per hotspot annually. There is no revenue sharing agreement with Facebook.

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