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Tata Teleservices to invest big in wi-fi hotspots

Says they cost less to deploy compared with 3G, 4G networks

Capitalizing on the fast growth in India's smartphone use, Tata Teleservices plans to set up nearly 4,000 wi-fi hot spots in nine Indian cities over the next two years.

The country's smartphone market swelled 171% last year to 44 million devices from 16.2 million in 2012, according to IDC India. One driving factor: the narrowing price gap between feature phones and smartphones.

Avinash Gabriel, chief operations officer of the wi-fi business at Tata Teleservices, told Economic Times that the company had witnessed a huge increase in data consumption on mobile phones since it began creating wi-fi hotspots for airports, restaurants, cafes and other businesses nine months ago. "From about 1 lakh logins in April last year, we now have 4.4 lakh logins, where the average time spent in each session is 40 minutes. So roughly, we've clocked 35 million minutes of usage as of January, up from 18 million minutes in April," he said.

Tata Teleservices has set up 540 wi-fi hot spots countrywide since April. Some of its major contracts include the T3 international airport terminal in New Delhi, the Wankhede cricket stadium in Mumbai, besides five-star hotels and cafes in several cities.

Gabriel said that wi-fi solutions were becoming more relevant for mobile phone companies as they entailed lower cost of deployment and rollouts compared with 3G and 4G networks that offer higher speeds while browsing the internet. While airwaves and mobile permits need to be bought for launching 3G and 4G services, wi-fi airwaves are free.

Wi-fi hotspots compliment 3G services as roaming between operators has been barred, Gabriel said, adding that having wi-fi hotspots in public spaces will soon become a hygiene factor as smartphone users demand constant connectivity.

From Economic Times

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