COVERAGE: Tea, with internet, anyone? |via @TheHindu Business Line

Soon, you may be able to browsealong with your cuppa atover 20,000 chai stalls in Mumbai

Mumbai, February 2:

Twenty-year-old Ahmed Farooque is watching his favourite videos on YouTube at Mumbai Masala, a small and modest eatery in the city’s Fort area. His free Wi-Fi connection is part of a project to roll out internet browsing services at 22,000 tea vendors in the city.

“Generally, I run to Starbucks or McDonald’s when I have to download stuff or update the heavy applications on my smartphone. However, this is a much cheaper option,” Farooque, a college student, said.

The concept of installing Wi-Fi hotspots at tea centres is being pushed by MUFT Internet, a company helmed by 20-something scientists who are still pursuing higher education. MUFT, which means free, wants to make Wi-Fi available at common places such as eateries, hospitals and universities.

“We believe that free internet should be considered a human right and are hence working on ways to bridge the digital divide,” Jinesh Parekh, a Researcher at MUFT Internet, who is also pursuing a Masters in Human Computer Interaction from Estonia, said.

Though it’s just been three days of offering free broadband, Mumbai Masala is already seeing more footfalls. Sales have gone up by 50 per cent for an additional monthly investment of Rs. 1,500 (for Wi-Fi equipment and support), according to Harishbhai Poojari, Manager of the 18-month-old eatery. Mumbai Masala is now able to attract more college students in addition to office-goers, its standard clientele.

“Today, a former tea vendor (Narendra Modi) is the Prime Minister of our country. Our owner felt it was high time that tea joints and small eateries in the country get a complete makeover. Moreover, it’s a great differentiator as Fort area is populated with all kinds of eateries,” said Poojari.

MUFT Internet said it can enable internet access for 50 persons, starting at Rs. 500 a month. The company is able to keep costs low by a combination of methods such as group-buying of broadband, innovative software technologies and participation of philanthropists, said Parekh.

Siddarth Bharwani, Director at Jetking Infotrain, and several other industry executives are part of the company. MUFT has also written to large corporations such as Infosys, Samsung and Micromax to support this initiative.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 3, 2015)

via Tea, with internet, anyone? | Business Line.

Ambitious #digitalindia′s plans to connect 600 million rural citizens to bridge #DigitalDivide via DW.DE

India’s ambitious optical fiber broadband network to bridge digital divide in rural areas

Construction has begun on India’s multi-billion dollar high-speed broadband network. With plans to connect 600 million rural citizens, the optical fiber network will be the largest of its kind.

Idukki was once an inaccessible, large tribal district in the southern Indian state of Kerala. But that’s a thing of the past. Idukki was the first district in India to be connected to the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) – ushering in a new era for Digital India.

Kerala was chosen as a starting point of the grand project because it was one of the quickest states to adopt the government’s e-literacy programs.

It started with the setting up of Akshaya or e-literacy centers in 2002.

Now every district in the state is an “e-district” and people are increasingly comfortable using computers.

“We get all types of government certificates from these centers, and we can also pay our utility bills, like electricity and water. But sometimes the Internet connection is poor, with long delays. So it will be good when it’s improved,” says Alice Kurian, an agricultural worker.

In a remote village in Idukki, an e-center employee explains digital transactions to indigenous tribes

“If we get a better connection, we will be able to provide our services at the maximum level and provide them quickly to our customers,” adds C. Y. Nishant, an entrepreneur who runs an e-stall in the district.

Unique project for a digital India

The project is seen as unique in the country’s history – in terms of the sheer volume of work, the geographical spread, the quantity of optical fiber cable that needs to be laid and the cost.

With a price tag of over 4.5 billion euros, the project will involve about 600,000 kilometers of optical fiber cable.

It is all part of the government’s Digital India Initiative.

The NOFN seeks to link the 250,000 village panchayats, or local government bodies, in the country, located in 6,600 blocks in 631 districts.

It uses Gigabit Passive Optical Network technology, enabling a single optical fiber to connect multiple village councils.

And the optical fiber network will provide speeds of up to 100 megabits per second.

Iris scanning at an e-center in Idukki district, Kerala

“There are a series of challenges. One has to lay infrastructure in a quarter million locations and these locations are in very different geographies,” says Aruna Sundararajan, who heads Bharat Broadband Network Limited, the company tasked with building the network. “Some of them are in remote villages in the north-east and some of them are in coastal villages.”

Sundararajan says India’s NOFN will play a vital role in bridging the country’s digital divide, as well as the divide between rural and urban communities.

A new economy

“This makes it possible for a remote farmer to get on an e-commerce platform and reach a much wider market. Similarly it makes it possible for children living in a village to get much better access to teachers and quality healthcare,” says Sundrarajan.

A recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and the Boston Consulting Group suggested fast paced growth in computer literacy and a greater use of data on mobile phones would help India’s Internet economy grow to $200 billion dollars, or 5 per cent of India’s GDP, by 2020.

The report also says that Internet users in India will jump from 190 million (as of June 2014) to over 550 million, while the number of users in rural areas will reach 210 million by 2018.

The government hopes to complete the network by March 2017.

via India′s ambitious optical fiber broadband network to bridge digital divide in rural areas | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 30.01.2015.

#Kolkata is set to become India’s first fully Wi-Fi-enabled city! via TOI

KOLKATA: Kolkata is set to become India’s first fully Wi-Fi-enabled metro with a private operator launching the service from Park Street on February 5 and then rolling it out in a phased manner across 144 municipal wards. The whole city is expected to come under Wi-Fi coverage by Bengali New Year in mid-April.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee made the surprise announcement at the inauguration of the Kolkata book fair on Tuesday evening. “Delighted to announce that #Kolkata will become India’s first fully Wi-Fi enabled metro city in the next 2-3 months. Park St from Feb 5,” the CM tweeted after making the announcement.

In an obvious reference to the Centre’s ambitious Digital India programme, party spokesperson Derek O’Brien tweeted immediately, “Let others talk about Digital India. We just delivered Digital Kolkata.”

Trinamool sources said Mamata was keen to do something that would be viewed as a game-changer to not only alter the perception about Kolkata but also change the image of her government as one that is passive and embroiled in corruption to progressive. “With Wi-Fi service, the party will be able to bridge the divide and disconnect with urban youths, something that BJP was taking advantage of. Wi-Fi will be Trinamool’s ‘killer app’,” a Trinamool leader said.To begin with, users of smart phones, tablets, laptops and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices travelling through Park Street, Loudon Street, Royd Street, Sudder Street and adjoining localities will be to access the service. Mayor Sovan Chatterjee who was entrusted to ensure that the service delivery deadline is met, told TOI the Kolkata Municipal Corporation would monitor the progress of Wi-Fi rollout and give it due priority.

Sources in Trinamool Congress said Mamata was keen to do something that would be viewed as a game-changer to not only alter the perception about Kolkata but also change the image of her government as one that is passive and embroiled in corruption to progressive.

“With Wi-Fi service, the party will be able to bridge the divide and disconnect with urban youths, something that BJP was taking advantage of. Wi-Fi will be Trinamool’s ‘killer app’,” a Trinamool leader said.

With service provider Reliance JIO’s officials, including business development head (east) Tarun Jhunjhunwala unavailable for comment, it wasn’t clear how the company would provide the expensive service free. But sources in the industry said the Mukesh Ambani-owned company with deep pockets would offer WiFi free during the trial period when the service is being rolled out across the city. Later, the free time may be reduced to 30 minutes in a day or even less as price packages are introduced. Reliance JIO is believed to offer the service free-of-cost to ministers, bureaucrats and police.

“Reliance will not only get a first-mover advantage, there will be many who will get so used to the fast WiFi service by then that they will find it impossible to revert to 3G that will appear too slow,” an industry expert said, pointing out that the company had already received a huge carriage fee waiver from KMC for laying the optic fibre cables for its 4G network.

Rival cellular operators are skeptical about the feasibility and business viability in a city like Kolkata where less than 1 lakh persons have 4G handsets and the average disposable income is low. “The ecosystem for such high-end services is not ready in Kolkata. Carrying out such a gigantic investment may prove costly,” a telecom expert said.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have not hinted at any plans to make such Wi-Fi forays in Kolkata in the near future. Bharti Airtel did launch 4G Wi-Fi-enabled buses but it failed to catch the imagination of commuters.

via Kolkata to go fully Wi-Fi in two months’ time – The Times of India.

American Company to beam #freeWiFi from space – via IBNLive

Washington: A US company is planning to build an ‘Outernet – a global network of cube satellites broadcasting Internet data to all the people on the planet – for free.

The idea is to offer free Internet access to all people, regardless of location, bypassing filtering or other means of censorship, according to the New York based non-profit organisation, Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).

MDIF proposes that hundreds of cube satellites be built and launched to create a constellation of sorts in the sky, allowing anyone with a phone or computer to access Internet data sent to the satellites by several hundred ground stations.

The organisation claims that 40 per cent of the people in the world today are still not able to connect to the Internet – and it’s not just because of restrictive governments such as North Korea – it’s also due to the high cost of bringing service to remote areas, ‘’ reported.

An Outernet would allow people from Siberia to parts of the western US to remote islands or villages in Africa to receive the same news as those in New York or Tokyo.

The Outernet would be one-way – data would flow from feeders to the satellites which would broadcast to all below. MDIF plans to add the ability to transmit from anywhere as well as soon as funds become available.

MDIF has acknowledged that building such a network would not be cheap. Such satellites typically run USD 100,000 to USD 300,000 to build and launch.

The timeline for the project calls for deploying the initial cubesats as early as next summer.

via US company to beam free wi-fi to entire world from space – IBNLive.

2500 cities in India to get #freeWiFi. However, it’s not completely free! #digitalindia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative is likely to kick off with a big bang plan to roll out free Wi-Fi internet connections in 2,500 cities and towns across the country.

The roll-out will happen over the next three years through state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, said a report in The Times of India, adding the plan will entail an investment of Rs 7,000 crore.

The free internet service will be available from the next financial year itself, will be available to subscribers of all  mobile networks and will offer speeds that will match that offered by 4G technology, BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava has told the newspaper here.

However, there will be cap on how much free internet users can enjoy before needing to pay for further data usage.

For those who have MTNL and BSNL connection, net access in another city will come with a nominal roaming charge, the report says.

The cities that will get the facility include Kolkata, Chennai, Lucknow, Dehradun, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Bhopal, Jaipur, Patna, Indore, Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

Digital India is a plan envisioned by Modi "to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy". The key to the programme is turning high-speed internet into a core utility.

According to the information available with the Digital India website, the government plans to extend coverage of the information infrastructure nationally by March 2017 at a cost of Rs 15,686 crore.

The benefits of the roll-out of free Wi-Fi in 2,500 cities are likely to be two-fold, and as the report says, it will help the loss-making state-run BSNL and MTNL to turn profitable and secondly, internet businesses will see an unprecedented boom.

Turning around BSNL is in line with the much-talked-about Modi strategy of improving the efficiency level of loss-making or sick PSUs.

Of the internet-based businesses, e-commerce is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the move. The boost to the sun-rise sector, which has seen many entrepreneurs starting up businesses over the last few years, will also indirectly help the economy as it increases the consumption demand. A revival in consumption is key to economic revival, which is expected to take place in the next two years or so.

However, everything depends on how fast the fiscally strained government will be able to find financial resources to invest in such a huge project.

via Modi's big-bang Digital India plan: 2500 cities to get free 4G-level wifi – Firstpost.

Rs. 10 (10 cents) per month per person Internet Plan to roll out in Mumbai! #digitalindia #ICT4D

Muft Internet - What is Muft Internet - Introduction to the Muft Internet Project


Subject: Mumbai to get free WiFi spots soon!

By Jinesh Parekh
January 15, 2015

MUMBAI, IN – An organization called MUFT Internet announced today that it has devised a technological system that will enable chai stalls in India with free WiFi access by 2016.

For a sum of INR 500 per month you could enable internet access for 50 people in India for 30 days. That’s an Internet bill of Rs.10 per person for an entire month. MUFT Internet plans to set up its free internet access points at chai stalls, cafes, schools, hospital clinics, train stops and all public areas.

“NO subscription fees. NO data fees. MUFT WiFi hotspots will ALWAYS be free. Just create a MUFT WiFi account and enjoy free internet everywhere! It should be that simple”

said Vipul Patel, co-founder of the Muft Internet project who plans to use a simplified network architecture and interaction design techniques to make it simple for users in India to access free internet.

Currently, 85% of India is still offline. 1 out of 1.3 billion Indians have never been online. The organization strongly believes that free internet should be considered as a human right and is working on ways to bridge the digital divide.

“Muft Internet has been working with government authorities, industry experts and Silicon Valley investors to make free internet access possible.”

– Mr Siddarth Bharwani, Director at Jetking Infotrain and member at Muft Internet.

The organization recently launched its first devices called the MUFT WiFi hotspots. These young scientists claim that with MUFT WiFi hotspots they will enable tea stalls to provide free internet access to its customers.

“Economic reforms begins with free internet access. Think of the impact on society with free information access!”

says Neha Rambhia (ex-IIT Bombay), a volunteer at Muft Internet.

Recent surveys shows cafes and restaurants that offer free WiFi enjoy more customers and footfalls than those who don’t. MUFT WiFi hotspots are helping small business owners improve their revenue and customer experience – by enabling their customers with free internet access.

MUFT WiFi hotspots will come in three monthly packages (hardware + software + service solutions) – Asha, Kiran and Pragati which will have a range of 25 m2, 50 m2 and 150 m2.

The pilot project begins with a small fast food joint called Mumbai Masala at Fort (Mumbai) and a hospital waiting room in Virar. The organization is reviewing applicants that can adopt these spots.

“I am excited about this idea. It’s refreshing and would love to see how my sales are improved after the free wifi service.” Said the very first owner of MUFT WiFi hotspot – Mr. Rajesh Shah (Owner, Mumbai Masala)

Key facts about MUFT WiFi hotspots

  • A free internet (WiFi) access point system that works with any ISP and can be used by EVERYONE for FREE INTERNET!

  • MUFT WiFi hotspots uses a series of new and #opensource technologies in the field of network architecture, internet distributions, wireless networks and interaction design.

  • MUFT WiFi hotspots will soon be present at train stations once the necessary permissions are obtained from the Railway ministry.

  • Unlike most wireless network, MUFT WiFi hotspots manages the security of the entire network to prevent cyber attacks.

  • The hardware is light weight, easy to install and is backed by powerful cloud technology that does not compromise on the security.

  • The technology was created by researchers from over 8 universities –  Tallinn University (Estonia), SciencePo University (France), Harvard Business School (USA), Singapore Management University are to name a few.

  • The ultimate goal of this technology is to have “free WiFi cities” in India.

About Muft Internet

What started as a Human Computer Interaction and Participatory Design research project with an aim to bring more people from developing countries online is now turning into a revolutionary information access movement that will transform India into a digital society.

The word ‘Muft’ / (मुफ़्त) means ‘Free’ in Hindi. We believe that free Internet access is a human right.

NOTE: We are not internet service providers, we are enablers. We work with the ISPs, government authorities and advertisers/investors to enable places with free internet access.


To learn more about this please visit or come over at:

MUMBAI 400002

Phone: +91 22 2208 2800 | Email: [email protected]


[Tweet “Rs. 10 (10 cents) per month per person Internet Plan to roll out in Mumbai! #digitalindia #ICT4D”]

Internet connection @ Rs 10 per month starting this year! @narendramodi’s #digitalindia dream coming true!

“For as little as Rs 500 (appx. 9Euros) a month, Muft Internet will provide 50 people with Internet connection for 30 days.”

“That’s an Internet bill of RS.10 (appx. 10 cents) per person per month.”

“It will be possible to bring free wifi at almost every chai stall”

These claims have not been made by marketers. They have been made by Human Computer Interaction scientists, ex-IITians and investors.

Over the past 12 months, university students from 8 different countries have been working on a join research with it’s central topic as

“How do we bring more people from developing countries online?”

1 billion in India have never been online. India is one of the top IT exporters in the world yet it has one of the lowest internet users per capita.

Muft Internet - What is Muft Internet - Introduction to the Muft Internet Project (14)

This is when everyone started on a concept together. It’s now called MUFT WiFi hotspots.

MUFT WiFi hotspots – A free internet (WiFi) access point system that works with any ISP and can be used by EVERYONE for FREE INTERNET!

These hotspots will be available to public spaces for everyone to use. Advertisers can adopt a spot for as little as Rs. 10 per user per month.

They argue that their uniqueness lies in their break through technology and alternate pricing system.

Take a look at the price plan. It’s unique and doesn’t follow conventional ISP complexity.


It’s still unclear about which places will be the first to get MUFT WiFi. It would definitely take time to bring the remaining 85% of India online.

Check out the Muft WiFi hotspot page!


[Tweet “Internet connection @ Rs 10 per month starting this year! @narendramodi’s #digitalindia dream coming true!”]

Government should involve local communities to enable #digitalindia

The central government needs to partner communities at the grassroots level and integrate the country’s vernacular component to make the Digital India initiative a success, an expert said here Friday.

“Whatever money it (Centre) is spending on culture, heritage conservation and preservation etc., it is always a very centralized activity. ”It is very, very essential to partner local communities,” T. Vishnu Vardhan, programme director (Access to Knowledge), The Centre For Internet and Society, Bengaluru, told IANS here. Vardhan was attending the 10th anniversary celebrations of Athe Bengali Wikimedia community at the Jadavpur University here. Aiming to turn the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, the Narendra Modi government has envisaged the Rs.1 lakh crore Digital India project.

Global IT giant Microsoft and Google have offered to help with the programme. Vardhan said that while going forward with the project, the Centre must integrate the vernacular components. Else it will be restricted to Delhi and metro cities. Access to culture on digitised platforms should not be limited, he observed. ”The current government talks about Digital India. But when you talk about digital India, the key thing that one needs to take into consideration is not the India but the Bharat — the vernacular imagination of India, the regional imagination of India. ”Otherwise whatever grand plans they have will only be limited to Delhi and other metropolitan cities,” said Vardhan.

He suggested that the central government take note of examples like Wikipedia’s regional language domains to further the Digital India project. ”Wikipedia or wikisource where you put up the original prints source in digitised form and make it searchable… these are the examples that the government should look at because these are done with the help of local volunteers who come from the remotest regions,” said Vardhan.

via Government should partner local communities in ‘Digital India’: Expert | Latest Tech News, Video & Photo Reviews at BGR India.

@microsoftindia to connect rural India with Super WiFi technology #digitalindia #superwifi

Microsoft India is ready with a plan to provide free last-mile internet connectivity across the country.

It proposes to use the “white space” – the unused spectrum between two TV channels – to provide free connectivity to large sections of the Indian population.

“Wifi has a range of only about 100 metres, whereas the 200-300 MHz spectrum band available in the white space can reach up to 10 km,” said Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman, Microsoft India. “This spectrum belongs mainly to Doordarshan and the government and is not used at all. We have sought clearance for a pilot project in two districts.”

If the pilots are successful, the project can be quickly rolled out across the country and could give a huge boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, which proposes to use technology to deliver governance to every citizen of India, even in remote areas.

“The challenge is the lack of digital infrastructure across India. This initiative addresses this challenge in a cost-effective manner and creates an eco-system that will benefit everyone, including manufacturers of routers and other technology devices, other technology companies, besides Microsoft,” Pramanik said.

Microsoft’s initiative also take forward the Prime Minister’s slogan of “IT + IT = IT”, which is Indian talent plus information technology equals India tomorrow and also give a push to the ‘Make in India’ campaign by encouraging the manufacture of equipment locally.

Microsoft, which was part of an international consortium that included BT, Nokia and BBC, conducted the most widespread field trials on white space-based Internet connectivity in Cambridge, US, in 2011. The technology hasn’t been widely adopted anywhere in the world, but experts believe it can lead to a spurt in broadband connectivity in countries such as India. Engineers at Microsoft development centres in India have adapted this unlicenced technology for this country.

The ambitious Digital India project envisages providing broadband connectivity across the country by connecting 250,000 gram panchayats via optic fibre cables, thereby providing digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, digital governance and services on demand and digitally empowering all citizens.

The plan was approved by the Modi Cabinet on August 30.

via Microsoft to use ‘white space’ tech for free internet in India – Hindustan Times.