Paytm testing free Wi-Fi service; will honor net neutrality
The new round is expected to raise the company's value to $5 billion, which is twice its valuation at $2 million in May this year. Pictured: Logo of Paytm.Wikimedia commons

Paytm is joining the league of internet service providers offering free Wi-Fi to users at metro stations. One of the key e-commerce players in the industry, Paytm started offering free Wi-Fi service to its customers at a metro station in Noida as a part of a pilot prgramme. The service is expected to be available across all metro stations in Delhi, the Economic Times reported.

The news of Paytm Wi-Fi came from the company's founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who shared a screenshot of a chat conversation showing a device connected to a hotspot named "PayTM Wi-Fi." The screenshot also shows that the free Wi-Fi service is currently available only in Noida Sector 18 under the metro station.

"We are building avenues for our merchants and consumers who do not have access to Internet at all times to stay connected with Paytm," Sharma was quoted as saying by ET in a statement. "Initially we are looking at metros because they are key locations for our consumers and our merchants, especially the auto-rickshaw walas."

Sharma also noted that Paytm Wi-Fi would not be limited to access Paytm, but work for other apps as well. This honours the principles of net neutrality, which isn't surprising as Sharma has been a supporter of free internet in India.

Free Wi-Fi at busy locations has become a consumer demand and a marketing stint to attract users. In Delhi, Vodafone and Tata Docomo are offering free Wi-Fi zones at prime locations such as Khan Market and CP, and Ozone is offering free Wi-Fi at railway stations and coffee shops. Bigger players such as Google and Microsoft are also launching free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, the Tech Portal reported.

Taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber are taking consumer experience to the next level by offering free Wi-Fi service. Uber is offering free 4G Wi-Fi in partnership with Airtel to customers in Mumbai, and plans to roll out the service in other parts of the country. Ola Prime riders get free Wi-Fi access in cabs without the need to register or request OTPs to connect.