Wi-Fi Choupal is a government initiative that provides Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas where people can access the internet by subscribing to low-cost data plans. The telecom department recently floated a tender to install over 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots across gram panchayats. The estimated cost of which has been pegged at Rs 4,000 crore.
The tender document states that one Wi-Fi hotspot will be deployed in gram panchayats with a population of up to 1,000, two in panchayats with a population of 3,500, three in areas with a population of up to 7,500, four if the population is 12,000, and five where the population is above 12,000.
The estimated budget for installation of Wi-Fi hotspots per gram panchayat has been kept at Rs 1.5 lakh and around 2.3 lakh gram panchayats are estimated to be covered under the project.
Objectives of the project
According to the Department of Telecommunications, the project strives to give rural areas access to the Internet and keep them updated on developments around the country. The Wi-Fi hotspots will also allow people in rural areas to connect to social institutions like police station, primary health centres, schools, post offices and avail their online services. “Once these institutions will be connected digitally, it will empower citizen in rural area with quick and efficient service and keep them up to date with urban India,” PTI quoted a DoT official as saying.
The official website of the scheme states the aim of Wi-fi Choupal is “to create a Wi-Fi coverage zone in the village, so as to cover all inhabited areas of the village using low-cost Wi-Fi equipment.”
The tariff plans range from Rs 10 to Rs 950 for a period of 10 days to 28 days. The minimum Wi-Fi plan costs Rs 10, under which the user can avail 500 MB Internet data for 10 days. While the maximum plan is available at a cost of Rs 950, under which the user gets 125 GB plus unlimited data.
Services available under the Wi-fi Choupal
Under the scheme, the official website states, people will be offered Wi-Fi hotspots in their villages, Internet services at homes and Internet services for the purpose of carrying out official work or business activities. The Wi-Fi service provided through these hotspots will also allow user to make voice calls using broadband.
Nine states covered under the scheme so far
Under the Wi-Fi Choupal Scheme, over 43,000 Wi-Fi hotspots have already been installed in the rural areas. The scheme, so far, covers villages of Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Puducherry.