In October, Facebook announced plans to expand Internet access in India by providing low-cost Wi-Fi to remote villages. Google also had a similar plan to expand Wi-Fi coverage throughout India. These initiatives are part of Digital India, a government plan to improve Internet connectivity.
It seems that four young IT engineers just beat Facebook to the punch.
Together, they've already connected numerous rural villages in India to the Internet. Shakeel Anjum, Tushar Bharthare, Bhanu Yadav and Abhishek Bharthare all left their tech jobs to provide free Internet to the villages in their home district of Rajgarh.
"Taking a cue from the Digital India theme, we have turned Bavadikeda Jagir, Shivnathpura and Devria villages into free Wi-Fi hamlets to provide the fruits of IT revolution to the villagers," one of the four young engineers, Shakeel Anjum, told PTI. "The results are for everyone to see as nearly 100 mobile users are now using wi-fi facility in these villages which is running uninterrupted. We have also installed a 200 Ampere power inverter to ensure round-the-clock facility in the event of a power cut there."
The four engineers began their project in August with an 80-foot tower and a high-frequency device. They introduced their Wi-Fi service in October and officially launched it in January into three nearby villages.
Their entire out-of-pocket cost for free Wi-Fi in the three villages was about $300.
"After the introduction of Wi-Fi, numerous villagers have bought smartphones. School children use apps and e-books to help their studies," Anjum told Mashable. "A Bank of India kiosk in the village can now work much more efficiently in opening new bank accounts because of uninterrupted Internet service."
Lal Singh, a teacher, brought a computer after his village of Shivnathpura received Wi-Fi connectivity. Singh also told the India Times that 70 to 80 residents have now purchased android phones because of the free Wi-Fi.
"The initiative of Shakeel Anjum, Tushar, Bhanu, and Abhishek in taking power of e-governance to remote villages is highly laudable," Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told PTI. "This team of technical experts not only displayed immense potential of our youth but also set an exemplary example for others to follow."
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