Peter Boyland, Senior Analyst
The month of July sees millions of students heading to India's universities to continue their education, spread their wings and meet new friends. The proliferation of cheap mobile data plans in recent years means that most of them will already have smartphones connected to 4G networks. But the demands of studying and a busy social life mean they will often need Wifi connections to fall back on. So where are Indians connecting to Wifi the most among the top university destinations?
We've analyzed ten of India's top university cities, ranking them based on our Time on Wifi metric, which measures the percentage of time our users's smartphones and devices are connected to Wifi networks. The top university city for Time on Wifi was Hyderabad, where our users spent over a quarter of their time connected to Wifi. The home of the Indian School of Business, BITS Pilani and EFLU is well served, as the government has provided over 3,000 free hotspots, while there are an estimated 60,000 free Wifi networks across the city.
Hyderabad was the clear leader, nearly four percentage points ahead of its closest neighbour. But our users in Mumbai — home of St. Xavier’s College, S.P. Jain Institute and Tata's TISS — also spent over 20% of their time on Wifi networks. The home of Bollywood boasts close to 180,000 free Wifi hotspots, although the government seems to have been less proactive in their network rollout in the Maharashtra capital.
With a score of just under 20%, it's no surprise to see India's tech capital Bangalore in third place. The city was one of the first to get government-funded Wifi, and students heading to Christ College, Presidency and IISc will enjoy some of the best free internet connectivity in India. Behind Bangalore, our users in Delhi, Chennai and Pune all spent over 15% of their time connected to Wifi networks.
With 4G Availability in most of India's biggest cities currently over 90%, maybe the need for Wifi connectivity is waning. But students need fast, reliable connections, and buying a home Wifi service will be prohibitively expensive for most — meaning free Wifi on college campuses and in public places is vital to any university city. Wifi can help to ease the pressure on overloaded 4G networks, improving the mobile network experience for everyone. The Indian government should be applauded for its work in providing free Wifi connectivity, as the huge success of the RailTel initiative shows. But as smartphone ownership grows and data demand rockets, India must continue with its Wifi push if it hopes to become a truly connected nation.