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Airtel seeks govt nod for wi-fi hotspots


War for internet data market seems to intensify in Kolkata with Bharti Airtel today saying that it was in process of seeking permission from the West Bengal government to go ahead with creating wi-fi hotspots across the city to push data usage.

"We have sought permission from the state government to create hotspots across the city as we are also looking at wi-fi service to consumers," Airtel CEO (Bengal & Odhisa) R S Negi said here today.

He was speaking to reporters on launch of its own 3G service in Kolkata circle on its recently acquired The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) 900 Mhz spectrum.

Reliance Jio has already launched wi-fi service in certain pockets of the city and it had earlier announced that it was in process of making Kolkata first wi-fi city of the county.

Data is turning out to be major focus for the telecom companies. Negi declining to give financial numbers except saying half of incremental revenue was from data services.

Negi said the company may use 3G or 4G network to fire the wi-fi service or in a combination of both depending on the situation.

Airtel already offering free wi-fi in two bus routes as trial to this mode of service since end of 2014.

Negi claimed that the new 3G service branded as Platinum 3G from today will offer better speed for consumers and better outdoor and indoor coverage.

He said the company was not tweaking with the existing 3G tariff for consumers.

However, the new 3G is only for Kolkata and not Rest of West Bengal circle.

Kolkata is the second circle for 3G service based on UMTS 900 after Mumbai for Airtel.