Govt looks to mount WiFi antennas on electricity poles, not cell towers

Sources said that once smart poles are brought in, they could have multiple uses.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | New Delhi | Published: March 10, 2015 3:36:31 am
The government’s WiFi plan is likely to be different from the free WiFi facility launched by the New Delhi Municipal Council in Connaught Place last year.archive The government’s WiFi plan is likely to be different from the free WiFi facility launched by the New Delhi Municipal Council in Connaught Place last year. (Source: Express archive)

Working towards its goal of making Delhi a WiFi city in a year, the Delhi government is considering a model that entails converting about one-fifth of the city’s electricity poles into “smart poles” on which WiFi antennas may be mounted. This will minimise the use of land and government funds, officials said.

“If this model is adopted, we will not need (cellphone) tower-based connectivity. It will also not require the government to seek more land from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). We may not need to use land at all.

However, since electricity poles come under Delhi government agencies, they can be converted into smart poles to mount WiFi antennas. This model will also consume less electricity. This will require about one-fifth (about 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh) poles to be turned into smart poles,” a source told Newsline.

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Sources said the government’s WiFi plan is likely to be very different from the one adopted by the New Delhi
Municipal Council (NDMC) — which had launched its freeWiFi facility in Connaught Place last year.

“NDMC had land available. The WiFi model of the Delhi government will be different from that. The feedback that we have been getting about the CP model has not been very good,” a source said.

The source also said that once smart poles are brought in, they could have multiple uses. “If the government wants to, it may even mount CCTV cameras on these poles,” the source said.

Last week, sources said, government officials held a series of interviews with various stakeholders including telecom experts, technocrats, technology experts and conceptually examined various business models.

However, officials said that a radio-frequency survey will be undertaken all over the city as technical issues may differ from one area to another.

“The number of poles available will also change from one area to another. Hence, the strategy that the government will adopt will also change accordingly. Discussions are underway,” the source said.

Sources also said that the cost that will be incurred is yet to be discussed with the Department of Finance but the “smart pole model” is likely to be economical as it will not require acquiring more land.

Also, electricity charges incurred in setting up cellphone towers will also be avoided.

After winning the Delhi Assembly polls, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that his government will take a year to make the poll-promise of free WiFi materialise.

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