Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who inaugurated free Wi-Fi service along Park Street on Thursday, announced that by end of April, the entire city will have wifi connectivity — “making Kolkata the country’s first Wi-Fi-enabled city”.
Officials of Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) that has rolled out the service at Park Street, however, was not so hopeful of meeting the April deadline.
“I don’t know why it is being called the first Wi-Fi enabled city because I have experienced it at Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Hoardings on this have been put up by KMC and the CM herself has announced it on stage. We will have to go by it,” said a senior RJIL official.
On the April deadline, he said: “The work is huge. We will take a few more months to streamline everything. It will definitely not be done by April-end.”
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“Today’s event cannot be called a launch. We wanted Kolkatans to experience wifi here. It will be available for free initially, but once everything is in place, it will be a charged service. Our company will come out with various plans,” he added.
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, however, told The Indian Express: “Wi-Fi connectivity is present at many other states in India but in pockets, not the entire city. Kolkata will be the first city to be entirely Wi-Fi enabled. Besides, this service here is free but at other places, you have to pay for it.”
Earlier on Thursday, in a tweet, Mamata said: “I feel proud today. It would not have been possible without the cooperation of Reliance Jio. They have been working silently for the last two years and have laid cables for almost 2,000 km, which is 90 per cent of the work. Another 250 to 300 km would be done within the next two months and then Kolkata will be the first Wi-Fi city in the country.”
She added that with the installation of some more towers, adjoining areas of Salt Lake, Barasat, Howrah and Rajarhat will also be able to enjoy Wi-Fi. “I have got an SMS from the Burdwan district magistrate, expressing his interest in starting similar services at his district. I will request the chief secretary to take up the matter with all the DMs and see the service can be started where,” Mamata said, adding that other cities will soon follow Kolkata.
At the event, Trinamool MP Derek O Brien took a groupie — including of Mamata and other Trinamool leaders — and posted it on twitter. Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, on the other hand, joined twitter on Thursday from the stage and put up his first tweet via wifi.