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India's Government to Bring Free Wi-fi to Over 1,000 Villages

Tyrone Stewart

Indian-family-using-phone-smaller.jpgThe Indian government has said it will provide free wi-fi to 1,050 villages across the second most populous country in the world.

Under a new project, called ‘Digital Village’, each of the 1,050 villages will get its own tower-mounted wi-fi hotspot over the next six months. Villagers will be able to connect using their mobile phones.

Aruna Sundararajan, an official at the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, told CNNMoney that the program aims to “provide basic development services to rural areas using digital technology”. Sundararajan added that these services would include interactive education, medical services and basic internet access.

The initial phase of the program is expected to cost around $62m and will eventually be extended to other parts of the South Asian nation.

Google and Facebook have been two global tech firms that have seen the unconnected population of India as potential targets in the past.

Google has installed a free wi-fi service at over 100 rail stations across India, while Facebook attempted the ‘Free Basics’ initiative – to provide free limited internet access to hundreds of millions – which was shot down by India’s telecoms regulator for violating principles of net neutrality.

Connectivity no longer just means mobile. It spans everything from Bluetooth beacons to smart home assistants, and offers brands a whole new set of ways to target and engage with consumers. To find out the challenges and opportunities this brave new world of technology offers, book you place at our Connected Consumer Summit, 16 February 2017 in London.