I was there for the moment when Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, launched WiFi in Kolkata’s Park Street, along with Dr. Amit Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee, Mayor Sovandeb Chatterjee, Derek O’Brien and Tarun Jhunjhunwala (representing Reliance), and the inauguration started off right on time (from 5 o’clock). The event was short and sweet – With Reliance Jio, now anyone with a smartphone can access the net by logging on with their phone number and special password provided to them via SMS.
Kolkata is the first metro city which aims to go fully WiFi by April 2015. Presently, Park Street area is completely WiFi enabled, but very soon, the access will spread all through Kolkata, to Salt Lake and Rajarhat region. By mid-2015 (ideally end of April), Kolkata will be fully WiFi connected, thanks to Reliance.
We watched as Mamata Banerjee tweeted in Bengali and English using the connection for the very first time. Soon enough, a groupfie was taken by the delegates to be shared, and Anupam Roy serenaded the crowd with a couple of his composition. But, what was truly remarkable was the speed of the WiFi service, which was shown off to the crowd. We were stunned to see the download and upload speed, and we did take advantage of it, by downloading and streaming HD videos, playing games, and downloading apps.
|Mayor Sovandeb Chatterjee trying out his WiFi|
In Park Street alone, there are 230 WiFi hotspots, and at one point of time, around 40 people can access each of the spots. Although at first, there was some confusion, when I tried to login, the system appeared to be very smart. All you have to do is the following –
- Turn on WiFi on your phone and find the connection “Jionet”. It is not secured so anyone can access it.
- Connect to it. Then, a browser page will open. type in your country code and phone number. Accept the terms and conditions. A password will be automatically sent to the phone number you registered with.
- Once the password is accepted, don’t close the browser. Surf the net from other tabs. You can use this for your laptop and your phone, so it is as simple as that.
After the event, we had a lovely time at Flurys, where we spent some time interacting and eating sandwiches, and helping people log in. Although some could not log in at first, Derek O’Brien had warned us that the first half an hour or so would be shaky, but then things will be fine. However, I logged in at dot six o’clock, and faced no issue whatsoever. I watched high resolution videos, downloaded files, and my phone updated a few apps immediately. Reliance Jio for the time being is providing the service for free, so check it out!
|Groupfie with Kolkata Bloggers and Derek O’Brien|
A few people have said that apparently there are a few minor issues with the WiFi service, but I tried it again at the Kolkata Literature Festival, and it worked perfectly. In fact, my blog post, which was written from there, Weaving a Tapestry, was completed using only the WiFi, and it worked brilliantly.