Telecom company Veecon Rok has partnered with state-owned firm BSNL to roll out wi-fi networks across 25 cities with an investment of Rs 36,000 crore over a period of five years.
Veecon Rok Corporation has also partnered with US space body NASA for communications technology, including wifi and mobile handsets.
It will also start selling Veecon ROKiT mobile handsets -- first glasses-free 3D mobile phone through BSNL network from the first quarter of 2019.
The telecom firm, a 50:50 joint venture between India's Veecon group and US-based Rok Corporation, claims that it will provide both street level and indoor wifi coverage across the cities.
"India has surpassed US and China in terms of data usage due to Digital India architected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To honour this commitment, under a partnership with Veecon RoK people will get free wifi access for first three months in cities where the network will be rolled out," BSNL Chairman and MD Anupam Shrivastava said while announcing the partnership.
He said that monetisation plan for cities will be decided after three months, which is very likely to be competitive compared to existing data plans.
"There will no cap on usage of wifi during first three months," Shrivastava said.
Veecon Rok Corporation Chairman Gaurav Kumar Srivastava said that the company has built its own wifi network solution by using part of technology developed by US space research body NASA.
"We plan to invest USD 5 billion (over Rs 36,000 crore over a period of next five years to roll out wifi across 25 cities. We will roll out networks in city one-by-one. Master one city and then move to other," Jonathan Kendrick, Co-Chairman, Veecon Rok Corporation said.
He said that Rok Corporation was the first company in the world to create an app for mobile phones, starting with Nokia's Symbian 40 operating system.
When asked about the time period the company expects to reach break-even in wifi business in India, Kendrick said the company expects a return in next 6-7 years from the time it begins rollout, starting the first quarter of 2019.
John Paul DeJoria, co-founder, ROK Group of Companies said that the company will not run for returns and will keep re-investing money in business and people.
"We are looking at what good can we do to the good number of people. Success not shared is a failure. Through wifi we are trying to give something to people who will give back to the economy in their own way," DeJoria said.
Talking about smartphones, BSNL CMD said that the handset will retail in the range of Rs 10,000 and Rs 30,000 a unit, besides a special feature phone for around Rs 1,000 a unit through its channel partners.
"We have NASA engineered technology in our smartphones. We have phones that retail for starting price of USD 20 with wifi calling, social media apps. We are also making the big library of content in 3D that can be accessed on our smartphones," Kendrick said.
He said that the company's library of 3D content will include films from Bollywood and Hollywood.
The Veecon chairman said that the smartphone users won't need any eyeglass to watch 3D content on the devices.
"We are keen to produce our devices in India and we will decide on it in a year or two," he said.
The cities where wifi will be rolled out are Varanasi, Ghazipur, Vijayawada, Navi Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, , Panaji, Pune, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Jaipur, Patna, Cochin, Guwahati, Tirupati, Shimla, Chandigarh, Noida, Gurugram, Dehradun, Indore and Agra.
(With inputs from agencies.)