Delhi is filled with hope, and expectation, as it waits for the Aam Aadmi Party to take charge. One of the things on top of the AAP government’s agenda is its promise to make Delhi a Wi-Fi city. A good chunk of Delhi’s youth also seem to be waiting to see this promise become a reality.
However, the idea seems to have trickled down to the Delhi janta in a distorted form. As AAP ideologue Yogendra Yadav says, in a democracy there is a gap between “what you say and what people hear”.
Here is a reality check:
1. Will the Wi-Fi be free?
Yes and no. Yes, if you are trying to access government websites and other public services. No if you are trying to download a movie or watch a YouTube video. Like most free public Wi-fi services there will be free service for a limited period, most probably 15 or 30 minutes. There will most probably be an option to get a paid package to use the Wi-Fi beyond this time period. So don’t think of getting rid of your Internet connection for AAP’s free Wi-Fi.
2. Will the entire city be covered?
Yes. But that does not mean you will be able to connect to the network on the go. Delhi the Wi-Fi city will essentially be a city with lots of Wi-Fi hotspots. A good example is Taipei, which has one of the best public Wi-Fi systems in the world. The capital of Taiwan has over 4,000 hotspots. So essentially, the Wi-Fi in Delhi will be limited to public zones.
3. What will it cost the city?
Wi-Fi is not an expensive technology to acquire or execute. AAP MLA Adarsh Shastri says the project will cost around Rs 250 crore as they have envisaged it. The manifesto says the party has already done a feasibility study on consultation with Internet companies.
4. How long will it take?
Shastri says it will take six months from the time the contract is awarded.
5. What does AAP hope to achieve from free Wi-Fi?
The AAP manifesto says a citywide Wi-Fi can “help hugely in bridging the digital divide”. The party thinks it will also provide an “impetus to education, entrepreneurship, business, employment and also tie in with women’s safety initiatives”.
6. Can it really help women’s safety?
While the manifesto says ready access to Wi-Fi will allow the victim of an assault to reach out for help, we are not sure this will be possible unless you have coverage in all places. A lot of such attacks happen in desolate areas, which are beyond even mobile networks.