Failed WiFi public network project in Pune

The ambitious project taken by Pune Municipal Corporation has gone awry. The plan to provide wireless networks in the city have remained on the papers. Even though the officials justifies the failure citing recession, the project seems to have been shelved for good. The case in Pune was a unique one because the access here was to be provided without any charge or password. PMC was providing Wi-Fi service in co-operation with Microsense company.

Anupam Saraph, chief information officer of Pune Municipal Corporation said, « We had proposed to Microsense that a mechanism involving Citizen Facilitation Kiosks should be set up. The company had promised us to provide the facility within one year. The deadline given by the company is over since long but nothing has been done on that front. »

Saraph has another thing to say about the viability of WiFi. « Since the day this project was started, six more companies came into the picture. Some of the companies told us that they have their own infrastructure. They did not require our help. Also, this network was supposed to cease to be free long ago. But the ISP company failed to form a business model to run it. Now, looking at the recession scenario, I do not think there will be any progress in the project for at least coming six months. »

The WiFi dream in Pune started in 2006 when Pune Contonment first started WiFi connectivity. PMC declared to provide this facility withing a 20 km radius of Shivajinagar, Deccan Gymkhana, Aundh and Baner from July. The project was started from Sambhaji Garden on April te 4th 2007. When Pune Mirror checked the situation on Wednesday, there was no connectivity in the same garden.

The WiFi project received poor response from service providers. Before Microsense, PMC had signed a contract with Dish-Net. But that plan could not be realised because the Wi-Max policy was to be finalised. The WiFi experiment was going on under the supervision of Saraph. But he has left PMC few months ago. Since then, R. V. Erande is looking after the IT departmnet. But Saraph claims that even though he does not see day to day affairs of IT related matters in PMC, he is looking after special projects like WiFi system. These projects are termed as Vision 2020 and work on them is going on for about two years. Whereas PMC commissioner Pravinsingh Pardeshi confirmed that Saraph is no longer working PMC.

Writen with Siddharth Gadkari.

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