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Google, Facebook contribute to Kejriwal’s free Wi-Fi dream

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

arvindkejriwalNew Delhi: Top global names in the internet and telecom sectors like Google and Facebook have been in discussions with the Arvind Kejriwal government, which aims at making Delhi a free wi-fi city, putting it at par with San Francisco, Stockholm and Shanghai in providing free internet connectivity throughout the city.

As the project of making Delhi a free public wi-fi city gains momentum, government officials are expecting some of the world’s best known tech firms to come forth to help in implementing the project throughout the city, over the next two months.

A Delhi government official told the Economic Times (ET), “Google, Facebook, Cisco, which is a global leader, Aruba, Ericsson, Vodafone, all of these companies, including many domestic firms, have all consulted with us and shown interest.” The official also said that the RFP tender document has been drafted and is waiting for final approval from the administration.

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“Half of the discussion has been finished, the remaining half will be done on Sunday afternoon. CM said though it is a holiday, he will have a meeting. He changed massive portions of the RFP and redid the proposal,” the official said.

Regarding the same project, Google gave a statement to ET, “We were approached for suggestions in very early stage discussion of this project.” Facebook said, “We are committed to working with various government agencies to help make Digital India a reality.”

Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri, the AAP government’s IT face, who oversaw the planning and consultation process of this project confirmed the interest shown by the companies.

Shastri told ET: “The interest level is very high (among global firms) because of the huge opportunity that they feel and the fact that this is a huge database. From a social standpoint they all want to participate in bridging the digital divide. Also, Delhi being a capital city, if you do something here, you are able to showcase something not just in India but also rest of the world.”

There are two crore devices in Delhi and capacity for simultaneous log-in for 50 lakh devices will be in place over a period of time. If cleared by the cabinet in mid-September, the tender document will be circulated soon and the officials expect tenders to be awarded in October.

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Google Planning to Introduce Smart Speakers with Display

Other technology players, including JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony have also signed up to make screen-equipped smart speakers

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Google preparing to launch display-equipped smart speakers. Pixabay

Google is reportedly preparing to launch a display-equipped smart speaker in a direct competition with Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding in the voice-activated gadgets category.

“Google targets to ship some three million units for the first batch of the new model of smart speaker that comes with a screen. It’s an aggressive plan,” Nikkei Asian Review quoted an industry source as saying on Thursday.

The new product would be part of the Google Home range of smart speakers, running on Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Google Assistant, similar to Amazon’s “Echo Show”, which is a pair of two-inch speakers with a 7-inch touchscreen that displays visual output for Alexa’s responses.

Google’s upcoming model with the display is still likely to rely on voice commands, but users should be able to play YouTube videos, check their calendars and view maps, the report added.

Google
Other technology players, including JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony have also signed up to make screen-equipped smart speakers. Pixabay

The Android developer’s AI speaker lineup currently features the standard Google Home, the cost-effective Home Mini and the high-end Home Max.

The first two options are positioned against Amazon’s regular Echo and Echo Dot, while the top-of-the-line model competes with Apple’s HomePod, which comes with the Siri voice assistant.

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The search engine giant accounted for 36 per cent of over 9 million smart speakers units shipped in the January-March period of 2018 with Amazon acquiring a 28 per cent market share.

Other technology players, including JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony have also signed up to make screen-equipped smart speakers. (IANS)