The Telegraph
Thursday , April 3 , 2014

Tata Docomo to set up more WiFi zones

Gabriel: Expanding reach

Calcutta, April 2: Tata Docomo, the telecom brand of Tata Teleservices Limited, has identified five locations to set up WiFi services.

The company is looking to set up WiFi zones in cafes, hospitality zones, airports and transit points, malls and educational institutions. It plans to set up 4,000 WiFi hotspots by the end of this fiscal in nine cities. At present, there are 870 such zones. In Bengal, it plans to have 150 zones by March 2015 from 40-50 now.

“We identified few areas where there is an opportunity to set up Wifi zones such as the Calcutta International Airport and Flury’s. We are using our existing infrastructure to start connecting these locations on our fibre optic network for superior services,” said Avinash Gabriel, chief operating officer (WiFi business), Tata Teleservices Ltd.

The Tatas are offering free service for the first 20 minutes in most hotspots, beyond which the consumers will have to buy an online plan or a scratch card from the counter. Customers can choose the offers accordingly. Tata Teleservices provides public WiFi speeds from 512 kbps to 10 Mbps.

The telco said it had zeroed in on the five areas after studying the consumption pattern of users.

India has close to 165 million Internet users and about 86 million access it on their mobiles. The smartphone market has grown 171 per cent to 44 million devices in 2013 from 16.2 million devices in 2012, according to IDC India. Avendus India pegs the number of smart device users in India at 382 million by 2016.

“Globally, about 70 per cent of smartphone users are on WiFi. WiFi is operator agnostic. The small screen sizes have taken over completely and this is driving data traffic,” said Gabriel.

Tata Teleservices forayed into WiFi nine months ago. In January 2014, it had 4.4 lakh log-ins against about 1 lakh in April last year, with an average time spent in each session being 40 minutes.

Gabriel said the WiFi hotspot deployment was more cost-efficient for operators compared with 3G or 4G. However, WiFi as a technology will never replace 3G. It can only complement it in places where the 3G capacity is choked, he said.