The Punjab Free WiFi initiative was introduced by the Government of Punjab last year in collaboration with the Punjab Information Technology Board. The program was aimed at the installation of more than 200 WiFi hotspots to provide free internet access to 160,000 users.
It’s been over a year since the service started and we decided to review the facility at different points in the city to find out whether it is still working as designed. Here are some of the glitches in the system that we found out during our testing of the Punjab Free Wifi.
As we came across hurdles like dropping down of signals and glitches such as login without registration, the biggest inconvenience that we faced was the snail speed of the internet at the time it was available.
Apart from slow browsing, downloading a file was even more agonizing and took a long time to download just a 15 MB application from Play Store. We found out that even our mobile data connection gave better connectivity than the WiFi.
Absence and Misuse of Sign Boards
Another embarrassing thing about the Wifi service is the fact that in most of the places, the signboards are not there to identify the place of Wifi availability. While in our survey, we noticed that where the Punjab Free WiFi app was showing the availability of WiFi service, we couldn’t spot any sign boards for that matter.
Even more astonishing was to witness the misuse of signboards which were used as a barrier in front of some Govt. buildings, like the one we spotted in front of the Punjab Civil Secretariat, Lahore.
Login Without Registration
Punjab Free WiFi service required you to register before using the service. We already knew that so we made sure to bring a phone on which the service was never used and to our surprise, it connected instantly and started browsing, all without registration.
This made us think about the security protocols of the network. Such glitches are evident that the security may be compromised on the network which may result in data leakage of the users. This is a serious issue and should be addressed by the authorities instantly.
The range of WiFi networks is often based upon what type of wireless technology is being used. Besides, the antenna type, frequency, and transmission type are essential elements in throwing WiFi signals. Location and environment also play an important role.
The general thumb rule states that approximate range for a typical WiFi router can vary from 35 feet to 50 feet. However, in this case, we observed an inferior range, even standing close to the signboard of WiFi didn’t help in catching the signals.
Moreover, the signals kept dropping which continually disrupted the browsing, and it was equally annoying.
The Absence of Sitting Area
Since Punjab Free Wifi is a public network, specially designed for the people to use it for a while, it was disappointing to observe that it lacked a dedicated sitting area at most of the places. We observed the same on at least 10 locations and did not find any sitting area anywhere near the wifi facility.
Using the internet while standing on roads makes it more inconvenient and awkward during the summer. Moreover, it hinders the pedestrian path too. Authorities should take measures in this regard.
We have been noticing this since the past 20 days that the service keep disconnecting and signals keep disappearing entirely and sadly there hasn’t been any remedy from the authorities.
During our survey, we also noticed the service cut off suddenly and did not resume for several hours. This does not only happen to a specific area but the whole system as we checked the service at different places. It’s a sad state of affairs and needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Poor Service in Educational Institutions
The most suited venue for a free wifi service is undoubtedly an educational institution. A free internet service would provide students with a chance to access everything online on the go which in turns help them in their study and research.
Sadly, that’s not the case with Punjab Wifi. Although it is available in many Govt. colleges and universities, that doesn’t count, as the service is down for most of the time and students aren’t even able to browse the internet, so they have to rely on their mobile data for their assignments and tasks.
On the contrary, some of the private institutions don’t rely on Punjab Free Wifi and provide their own service on the campus which works as swift as it should, unlike the Punjab Wifi.
With all said and done, we must admit that Punjab Free Wifi service is an applaudable initiative and we hope that the IT sector keeps on progressing under the newly elected government, to further facilitate the people and bring them closer by providing services that make communication reliable and faster.