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Govt’s 2000 public Wi-Fi hotspots to exert strong influence on economic growth

KOCHI : The soon-to-be installed additional 2000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in Kerala will result in massive internet penetration exerting strong influence on the economic growth rate of the state. Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM) has already selected public sector telecom major BSNL as the system integrator for implementing the Rs 50 crore project. 

As per a McKinsey report titled “The Great Transformer: The Impact of the Internet on Economic Growth and Prosperity”, in advanced economies the internet accounted for ten per cent of the GDP growth over the past 15 years and its influence is growing. “In emerging economies of India, Brazil and China, the internet contributed seven per cent of the growth over the past 15 years and 11 per cent over the past five years. There is also a clear connection between the maturity of the internet ecosystem and rising living standards,” the report said. 

The Kerala government decided to expand its internet offering to the public through wifi hotspots after usage data estimated that over 44000 unique visitors per day are using the existing public Wi-Fi facility consuming 8TB data. Through the Wi-Fi hotspots, the government aims at increasing the reach of government services to the citizens, bringing more services through the Wi-Fi network and increasing the Wi-Fi coverage. A latest government order said the new Wi-Fi hotspots will be established in coastal fishing villages and backward tribal hamlets. The project offers 

at least 300 MB free internet and unlimited access to e-governance services and applications. The project would be implemented in three phases with Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Alappuzha in region one, Idukki, Kochi, Thrissur and Palakkad in region two and Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod in region three.  The shortlisted spots for wifi will basically be public places like railway stations, bus stands, government offices, shopping centres, important junctions, major educational institutions, hospitals and parks.  The new Wi-Fi hotspots would be an addition to already existing over 100 public Wi-Fi hotspots established by BSNL, railways and other agencies. Public will have unlimited access to websites and mobile applications under the state data centre through these Wi-Fi hotspots. 

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