We’ve all been there. You’re either watching a YouTube video, or chatting to somebody on WhatsApp and suddenly your data package ends. Maybe there’s a network problem. Or you forgot to pay your bill. Whatever the reason, not being connected to the internet hampers our everyday functionality. We chat and navigate, read and learn, love and hate, all on the internet.
At times like these free Wi-Fi hotspots are a lifesaver. And Pakistan is soon going to have them as well.
Developed and deployed by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) as part of the M-Governance initiative, nearly 200 hotpots will be set up in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan, at locations such as educational and government institutions, public parks, market places, hospitals, railway stations, airports and bus stations.
“Users will be authenticated by their ID and mobile numbers, after which they will receive a code via SMS to connect to the internet,” says Sajjad Ghani, Director IT at PITB. “We will avoid data hogging by making the internet subscription time barred and are still deciding the exact duration of the subscription as well as which websites will be accessible through this Wi-Fi.”
The transmission network for access points consists of a host of components ranging from core switches, firewalls, PoE switches, access points and fibre optic cables. All the local cells will be managed by a operating centre at the PITB. Secure housing and backup of the equipment will be ensured by PITB for continuous operations.
The project is expected to launch in December 2016.
However, free Wi-Fi Hotspots usually come with a price. Data sent from public Wi-Fi can be intercepted and hence poses data security threats for its users. Government agencies may be able to access information stored on devices connected to public Wi-Fi servers. But Ghani says, “We will only keep time and location logs so we are able to check them incase of any terrorist activities. But browsing history and user data will not be saved or stored.”