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Wi-Fi checks in, partially

The first phase of the ambitious 20-km stretch of the Wi-Fi zone in the city has started functioning, partially.

People with Internet-enabled devices, including laptops, cellphones and tablet PCs, can now connect to the city Wi-Fi network at select locations on a stretch of around 10km between National Institute of Technology, Patna, on Ashok Rajpath and Income Tax roundabout on Bailey Road. The 6km stretch from NIT-Patna to Gandhi Maidan on Ashok Rajpath is partially functional, while people can access the Wi-Fi uninterrupted from Dakbungalow crossing to IT roundabout (2km) on Bailey Road. The 2km stretch from Gandhi Maidan to Dakbungalow crossing is yet to be operational. (See graphic)

The entire 10km stretch is expected to have uninterrupted Wi-Fi facility by the end of this month. A source in Bihar State Electronic Development Corporation Limited (Beltron) — the executing agency of the project — claimed that around 3,000 users were regularly connecting to the Wi-Fi network at the select locations using a bandwidth of 10mbps. Once the entire Wi-Fi project is complete, people would have free access to Internet on 20-km stretch from NIT on Ashok Rajpath in the east to Saguna Mor in the west, more than three times the coverage area (around 6.5km) in Bangalore — considered the Silicon City of India. Wireless access points would be set up every 300m (approximately).

The first phase of the Wi-Fi project from NIT to Income Tax roundabout would have around 30 access points, at an average interval of around 333m. At present, eight access points are operational.

The Wi-Fi gear at existing access points (eight already operational) comprises router and other supporting equipment, including an antenna mounted on electric poles. The access points are connected through a gigabit fibre network, which, in turn, are connected to big data servers at the control room of Beltron.

A source in Benchmark Infotech Pvt. Ltd of Calcutta, the firm awarded the contract for the Wi-Fi project, claimed that they were targeting to install 10 access points in a week. “At a few places, electricity connections are yet to be given to the access points. Some place else, the authority concerned is yet to grant the permission. We have been able to start the Wi-Fi service near the Patna University and the Dakbungalow area as of now,” said an executive of Benchmark Infotech Pvt. Ltd.

“We have covered the stretch of Ashok Rajpath in front of Patna University and PMCH to cater to the students and the stretch of Bailey Road from Dakbungalow crossing to Income Tax roundabout to cater to the commercial hub of the city. Our target to complete the first phase of the Wi-Fi project over the next two weeks hinges on electricity connection and other necessary approvals,” said a senior official of Beltron.

After the completion of the first phase, Beltron would start installing the access points on Bailey Road between Income Tax roundabout and JD Women’s College. “The stretch of Bailey Road between Jagdeopath and Saguna Mor would be covered in the last phase because of the ongoing construction of a flyover on that stretch,” said the Beltron officer. Residents willing to connect to the Wi-Fi network for browsing the Internet need to register themselves on the Patna City Wi-Fi page. Once a person registers, his/her authentication details, including user name and password, would sent to the registered cellphone number through an SMS for logging in during the next 24 hours.

The commissioning of Wi-Fi system assumes significance against the backdrop of the general election because the Election Commission would web-cast voting live from few select sensitive polling stations this year.

Additional chief electoral officer R. Lakshmanan said: “The web-casting would be primarily done for poll monitoring. As of now, it has not been decided if it would be for public consumption.”

Irrespective of whether residents can watch the poll web-casting or not, they utilise the free city Wi-Fi facility for exploring the web world to obtain poll-related information. For instance, electors can visit websites of the Election Commission of India and the district administration for finding their names in the electoral rolls and locating their polling booths.


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