Mumbai recently became the city with India’s largest public Wi-Fi. Dubbed ‘MumbaiWiFi’, the network has 500 hotspots at launch, and the number is supposed to be raised to 1200 this year. It’s free until the end of this month, after which 100MB per month will be free, and further usage will be chargeable. We set out on the streets to get a taste of this free WiFi. Here is our hands-on experience.
How you connect to MumbaiWiFi hotspots:
Going through the list of hotspots available on the official website, you can see that MumbaiWiFi is primarily available at public locations like train stations, bus depots, as well as some places of interest. We started our test at the eastern end of the Kurla railway station. Here, our phones were unable to latch on to the network - on the phones, we got a ‘Failed to obtain IP address’ error.
Next, we reached the A-road outside Churchgate station, where MumbaiWiFi did manage to connect, as well as authenticate us via OTP. The speeds we saw SpeedTest app were mind-boggling - in excess of 50Mbps of both upload and download. Excited, we wanted to download a few files, but looking at how long it was taking to even load images on a website crushed our hopes. A 680MB episode of a TV show on Netflix progressed much slower than you would imagine. Installing Asphalt 8 didn’t even take off; all we got was an endlessly looping progress bar. Clearly, there's a lot of variation between test results and real world usage.
It’s probably not easy to maintain quality of service for public Wi-Fi hotspots. Even in first world countries we’ve had some mediocre experiences. Also, our experience may vary from yours there are a number of different things that will affect the speed at any time, from the number of users at that time, to how they are consuming the available bandwidth, and so on.
But it was clear from our limited experience that any serious Internet user should rather use their own 4G data connection instead. We hope MumbaiWiFi and similar public Wi-Fi services mature over time, and provide seamless connectivity to most Mumbaikars. 4G data is becoming cheaper by the day in India today, which offers seamless connectivity and is more reliable today in our opinion. If MumbaiWiFi is seriously intended to grow as a freemium service that actually makes money, then it's going to have to improve its offerings soon.
What was your experience when trying out MumbaiWiFi? Let us know via the comments below.