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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Pune goes wireless, city all tied up

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee preaches ‘do it now’; Pune goes and just does it.

As Bhattacharjee’s government sits on proposals for high-speed wireless Internet connectivity for Calcutta, Pune Municipal Corporation has signed up with chip major Intel and Microsense to provide wireless connectivity — by using Wi-Fi and WiMAX technologies.

“It has become a trend to go for wireless networks and some Indian cities have been trying it. But it is Pune that has staked the claim of being the first city to take up the project of making the city completely wireless,” says Kiran Karnik, president, Nasscom, the apex body of IT and IT-enabled services companies.

The ‘Unwire Pune’ project is aimed at delivering easy, seamless Internet connectivity solutions. Pune has clinched the deal with Intel and rolled out Phase I on April 2 while the Bengal government toys with the idea of introducing Wi-Fi and WiMAX in Calcutta for over a year now.

“From conceptualisation to rollout, we did it in less than a year,” Nitin Kareer, commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation, tells Metro.

Last year, Denmark-based Wireless Innovation Platform (WIP) Labs, which is setting up a Rs 200-crore wireless and mobile communications hub in the city, submitted a proposal to make the entire city Wi-Fi. Intel has also placed a proposal to create wireless ‘hotspots’ in Calcutta.

“We were approached by WIP Labs to make the whole city Wi-Fi. They propose to invest in infrastructure at a cost of Rs 8 to Rs 10 crore. We have some other Wi-Fi proposals, too, and are currently considering them,” says Debesh Das, minister of IT, government of West Bengal.

The government has not even set a deadline for Calcutta to go wireless. “We have got proposals, but issues like formulating usage charges need to be resolved,” explains Das.

Later this month, a team from WIP Labs will visit the city. The government is expected to resume talks on making the city wireless.

The advantage of a wireless network is that anyone with a Wi-Fi or WiMAX-enabled laptop, mobile phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) can connect to the Internet directly if in the network zone.

Metros have ‘hotspots’ in places of business interest, like hotels, commercial buildings, IT parks and airport lounges.

“There are significant merits in cities undertaking such projects and Wi-Fi networks are here to stay. They are not cosmetic hi-tech additions,” stresses Karnik of Nasscom.

With Pune having done it and Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mysore and Ahmedabad planning to do it in a hurry, Calcutta is in fear of missing the tech bus — yet again.

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