Mumbai, June 26: The Maharashtra government has decided to extend the WiFi service, which is available across the city, for free until August 15, 2017. Earlier, the free facility was only available until May 1, 2017. The Wi-Fi is available at 585 locations across Mumbai via hotspots. Also Read - Maharashtra Records 5439 COVID-19 Cases in 24 Hours, State Says no Plan to Impose Lockdown

One of the key reasons for extending the service until the Independence Day is the Maharashtra government’s inability to arrive at a rate which is both accessible to the general public and economically viable. This is especially important keeping in mind the tough competition from private network providers. Also Read - Arnab Goswami’s Plea Against Privilege Notice Adjourned for Two weeks by SC

Initially, the government had planned to levy a charge of Rs 15 for 1 GB data for the service named ‘Aaple Sarkar Mumbai WiFi’. Further, the free service during the initial period would allow users to access 500 MB or 30 minutes of usage, whichever is reached at first. Also Read - Maharashtra: 35 Percent Schools Reopen After 8 Months, Only 5 Percent Students Attend

While launching the project, Vijay Kumar Gautam, principal secretary of the state information technology (IT) department was quoted by DNA as having said, “We are likely to approve a plan which allows people to surf free of cost for 500 MB or half-and-hour. The paid plans will have rates which are cheaper than those offered by private telecom companies. These will be in the range of around Rs 15- 20 per GB and will be valid for a 30-day period.”

The first round of the project saw the installation of 510 hotspot units. This was followed by another 85 hotspots, taking the total of free WiFi locations in the city to 585. Each hotspot has around four access points, thereby connecting around 40 users at a time.

According to a report in the HT, a senior official from state information technology (IT) department said, “It is a one-of-a-kind project in the country and there no model that can be implemented to monetise the service. We also have to consider charges applied by the private internet services providers, which have reduced significantly in the past few months.”