Kolkata: After witnessing the launch of the country's first mobile service in 1995, Kolkata is all set to become the country's first digital metro city with Reliance Jio unveiling its Wireless Broadband Access-based Wi-Fi services here Thursday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata on Thursday launched the 'Jionet' brand Wi-Fi service from Park Street. Adjoining areas like Loudon Street and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road were also likely to be covered in the first phase of the soft launch.
The first mobile phone service in the country was launched when Modi Telstra patched through a call in 1995 between then chief minister Jyoti Basu in Kolkata and then Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram in Delhi.
"All my Wi-Fi friends, I am tweeting using #WiFiKolkata. So proud to be first Wi-Fi Metro city in India. Congratulations to us all," Banerjee unveiled the service with this tweet.
The service is available for public from 6 PM and initially would be offered free, subject to fair usage, a company release said.
Earlier, company officials had said the Wi-Fi service would turn to be a paid service only after a formal commercial launch was done and that would happen once the entire city coverage was complete.
"We have started today, rest of the country will follow. Kolkata will become a knowledge hub for the world," Banerjee said.
After Kolkata, we would also start this service in Salt Lake, Barasat, Howrah, the chief minister said adding, Reliance had assured the government that by the end of April, the entire city would be covered by the service.
"More than 2,000 km of cable has already been laid in the city over the last two years completing 90 per cent of the work. They (Reliance) have to set up some BTS, in which we will help," Banerjee said.
Reliance Jio's head (east) Tarun Jhunjhunwala said the launch would mark a paradigm shift and would make Kolkata the first Wi-Fi metro in the country.
"Digital Kolkata is entering the cutting edge of history. I feel deeply honoured that in my lifetime I can witness such a moment," state finance minister Amit Mitra said in his reaction.
"This is a historic moment for the city of Kolkata," said Kolkata Mayor Sovon Chatterjee.
National spokesman of the Trinamool Congress Derek O'Brien said in a tweet on the occasion, "While others take selfies, we believe in being inclusive. Here is a groupfie."
Reliance Jio had won broadband spectrum in the 2300 Mhz band in all 22 telecom circles in the country for 4G service.