The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) promise of free Wi-Fi could not materialise in its first year of governance but it has been a work in progress. The plan had featured in the AAP’s 70-point action plan for its five-year tenure.
According to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the Information Technology (IT) portfolio, there are many financial models for implementing projects like providing free Wi-Fi and installing CCTV cameras.
“Whether one company should cater to all of Delhi, whether the government should be a partner in this, how much accountability should the government have and who the stakeholders will be… all these things need to be studied… we have reached a stage where we are hiring consultants. We will be working together to implement the project. A project of such a large scale cannot be implemented overnight…”
The minister added that as projects like providing free Wi-Fi have never been undertaken in Delhi, it was difficult to say how much time it will take to complete them.
“You cannot give timelines for new projects like these. We will have to examine the options that consultants give us and the offers companies make… it requires big capital investment as well,” said Sisodia.
In July 2015, the Delhi government’s IT department had prepared a proposal to give the people of Delhi free Wi-Fi worth 1 GB for one month per SIM card.
The IT department had also identified 3,000 “hot zones” across the capital’s 70 assembly constituencies, where Wi-Fi would be provided in the first stage of the project, and 3,000 more hot zones that would be created at a later stage, said government officials. The hot zones included public parks, markets and external areas of hospitals.
However, the government felt the need to get the proposal examined by independent telecom consultants before taking it any further. Sources said PricewaterhouseCoopers has been engaged as a consultant for the Wi-Fi project and it is expected to present its proposal to the government soon.