Pune Un-Wired

By : |June 4, 2007 0

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Intel and Microsense recently joined hands for the commercial rollout of the first phase of the city-wide broadband wireless network. Considering that last mile connectivity has been one of the hurdles in taking connectivity right up to the doorstep and for delivering citizen services, the wireless network is touted to provide a platform for the city’s e-governance drive, apart from catering to the commercial market for both corporates and individuals.

The project, a public-private partnership, entails a Rs 100 crore investment and will be rolled-out over the next 12-18 months. and implementation will be completed in 4-6 months. The meshed Wi-Fi and WiMax deployment will eventually be covering a 250 sq km area.

According to Dr Nitin Kareer, Commissioner of PMC, "Along with basic facilities, PMC would also like to provide basic IT infrastructure to citizens and offer compelling business and cost models to attract and sustain major ISP businesses in Pune". R Sivakumar, MD, Intel (South Asia) adds that the project will enable better education, healthcare, agricultural productivity and income, while improving small business and e-Gov access. Intel is the technical consultant for the project, while Microsense is the network integrator and service provider that will create the WiMax umbrella.

Big Benefits
The advantage of the wireless network is that it will help in providing easy Internet access to citizens from anywhere. According to Dr Kareer, the PMC might be utilizing the network for delivering e-Gov services in the future. A city wireless network is a good proposition for delivering e-Gov services that were hitherto unavailable owing to lack of connectivity. It can help the government in providing better management to the city and better services to citizens.

The wireless network will also be providing connectivity to PMC schools. The private and aided schools will also be covered but will be charged while the municipal schools will be provided access for nearly free of charge. However, the key to the success and sustainability of the project will depend on working out a sound business model. As far as the business model is concerned, Microsense, which will be setting up and providing the wireless umbrella, has entered into a commercially viable situation to be able to sustain the project. According to S Kailasanathan, MD, Microsense, the network will be self-sustaining and commercially viable. The basic offering will include pure vanilla Internet access, which will be available at Rs 250 per month for 256 kbps, to begin with. The speeds will further be scaled up to 2 Mbps in the future. Apart from that the company will also be targeting value added services for corporates as part of its business model. Some of the functionalities that will be added in the future will be bandwidth on demand, managed services. Advertising is being targeted as another revenue stream. Applications can be added in the future as demand arises.

The commercial viability and success of the ‘Unwire Pune’ initiative will be the key to such projects being planned by other cities seeing the light of day. Many cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata are already contemplating going wireless. The Pune success story will help in bolstering confidence and providing live examples to refer to and learn from.

 

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