Taking the plan of providing free WiFi across the capital a step forward, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on Wednesday announced that the facility will soon be available in areas under its jurisdiction. The civic body has decided to offer the facility through ‘NextGen digital poles’, which will not just have WiFi access points but also LED bulbs and CCTV cameras.
Speaking to mediapersons, NDMC Chairperson Jalaj Srivastava said, “This is an integration of three schemes announced by the Prime Minister — Smart City, Digital India and Prakash Path. These are overlapping schemes. We have been working on this integrated project for a while. Modifying the earlier RFP (request for proposal), we have invited tenders for the installation of poles with WiFi access points, CCTV cameras and LED lights. Two bidders have approached us. It is probably for the first time in the subcontinent that such a PPP (Public Private Partnership) will be launched.”
Speaking about the genesis of the project, Srivastava said, “Currently, the average half-an-hour journey from the airport has bad signals and calls get dropped numerous times. So, we envisaged a roadside WiFi corridor to provide seamless connectivity of about 20-30 minutes for a person travelling from IGI Airport to Connaught Place.”
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Similar to the WiFi facility offered in Connaught Place and Khan Market, the service will be free to consumers for the first twenty minutes, irrespective of the operators.
The project will be carried out in a phased manner with at least 1000 poles being replaced every year. “Currently, the NDMC is spending around Rs 9 crore annually on street lights. The council expects to gain financially through the project. Around Rs 4.5 crore will be saved annually on power bills by using LEDs and another one-time saving on CCTV cameras will amount to Rs 15-20 crore,” Srivastava said.
Under the project, around 18,500 poles will be fitted with LED lights. The NDMC maintains that around Rs 220 crore will be incurred by the private company roped in for the project and spare the council of the expenses. The council has shortlisted Indus Towers Limited for the project and an agreement was signed before Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung on Wednesday evening.