The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is planning to provide free WiFi — for the first 20 minutes — in areas under its jurisdiction in the next six months, chairman Naresh Kumar said Tuesday. The council is planning to set up 625 ‘smart poles’ to provide internet connectivity, he said.
Kumar was speaking at a programme marking four years of ‘NDMC Smart City Initiatives’. A similar WiFi service is functional in a 5-sq km area around the inner and outer circles of Connaught Place, including Central Park. The card, currently being given by a private firm, costs Rs 10 for 30 minutes, Rs 20 for 60 minutes, and Rs 50 for 180 minutes, a senior official said.
According to a senior official, people will be able to avail the facility on their phones or other electronic devices by filling details such as email ID and phone number. After the first 20 minutes, they can continue using the internet service through a rechargeable card, for which the council will tie up with a private firm.
On the technology and infrastructure needed for the project, a senior official said the smart poles will be set up at a height between 9 and 12 metres, and will host micro cells for telecommunication for internet services. The official added that the smart poles will have cabinets to facilitate telecom operators to place their equipment, and they will provide free WiFi for a defined time period to registered users.
NDMC has already installed 55 such smart poles with free WiFi features, environment sensors with display units, CCTVs and LED street lights in the past year, said the official. In future, these poles can also be used to establish connectivity between government departments and control centres of different agencies.
At the event, Kumar talked about the council’s plans to start phase two of the water ATM project, as a part of which 40 machines will be installed. There are 37 water ATMs, which dispense water for a specific amount, in areas under the council. “There have been reports of malfunctioning… as people fiddle with the machine and damage it. In the next phase, under a public-private partnership model, these will be manned by guards,” he said.
The agency has also identified 200 dark stretches to install LED street lamps and will introduce a public e-scooter system. The Delhi government has been grappling with the issue of free WiFi since AAP came to power in 2015. Among their biggest promises was providing free WiFi to citizens for a limited time or data download limit each day. The project, however, has seen several delays.
As per the latest plan, the tender deadline for the project is December 31 this year.