LAHORE: People in five major cities of Punjab can now access the internet on the go as the government officially launched 200 free WiFi hotspots.
The cities include Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and Bahawalpur, whereas there will also be 16 hotspots in Murree.
The internet service was launched by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif during a ceremony held at the Irfa Kareen Software Technology Park. Addressing the ceremony after pressing the launch button, Shehbaz said the internet service in five big cities was a huge step towards digitising Punjab.
Three Punjab cities get free WiFi hotspots
He said the provincial government had taken revolutionary measures to promote IT and the performance of several government departments had improved as a result.
The hotspots were installed in January 2017 and had been tested for several months. Each hotspot caters to between 800 and 1,500 users, depending on usage at the location.
Every hotspot will have four to five access points and provide internet within 100 to 500 metres of them. To use the web, a user will have to go through a simple registration procedure which will only require his or her name, date of birth, profession and mobile number.
With the information punched in, the user will be able to use the internet for two hours in a go for one day. For another two hours, the user would only need to provide the mobile number.
Every user would be given internet usage up to four hours a day. Each hotspot also has a screen display revealing the total number of internet users connected to the hotspot, the available bandwidth and data usage statistics.
This will help the person assess the existing load on a particular hotspot.
During his address, the CM recalled how a free Wifi service helped save the life of a patient at the Lahore General Hospital. He said the husband of the patient used the service to launch an appeal for blood for his wife.
Free Wifi for Lahore soon, says PITB
The quick response helped him arrange blood and the woman’s life was saved. He said all the investment on the project can be considered returned if even a single life was saved. He added the project will make establishing contact easy and will benefit citizens.
Talking about other IT initiatives, Shehbaz said patwaris had been replaced by the Land Record Information Management System. He said corruption had been eliminated through the new system and provided relief to the people.
The CM added police stations had been computerised and FIRs were now registered through the computer. He added IT labs had been set up in all government schools of Punjab and now 50,000 tablets would be also distributed.
Shehbaz said an IT university was operating at the Irfa Kareem Technology Park, while a new campus of the university was being set up on Bedian Road. He said the land for the institute, worth billions, had been handed over to VC Dr Umer Saif who promised to set up the campus in one year. He said the varsity would be a great achievement and funds had been earmarked for it in the forthcoming budget.
Punjab Information Technology Board Chairman Dr Umer Saif talked about steps taken to introduce e-governance and the use of IT in the education, health, police and other sectors. He spoke about the purpose of the free internet service and said the Punjab government had brought about revolution in several departments. At the end of the ceremony the PITC chairman presented a shield to the chief minister, while Shehbaz Sharif presented the same to the project manager of the free internet service, Sajjad Ghani, and other involved officers.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2017.