Sylhet is all set to become Bangladesh's first Wifi city because, a week from now, the service will be available for free at 126 points across the city.
Dedicated routers were installed at all the selected city points on March 13 and some of these have already started functioning, the Sylhet district administration claimed. Installed as part of the Digital Sylhet City project, the free Wifi service will run at full capacity within seven or eight days, district administration sources claimed.
Interested users may access the Wifi by tapping into the connection named "Digital Bangladesh," with their Wifi-enabled devices, and entering the password "Joy Bangla".
However, this correspondent found the internet speed alarmingly slow while using the new Wifi network at the divisional commissioner's office.
University student Akramul Islam supported this finding, when he claimed that he could not access any website last Wednesday due to the slow internet speed.
Sylhet District Administrator M Kazi Emdadul Islam said they are now testing different internet connections on the 126 installed routers. Even though some of the routers have already been connected to the global internet infrastructure, the full capacity of the project can only be ensured after all the routers have been activated.
"The task will be complete in about a week and then Sylhet will become the first free-Wifi city of the country," he added.
Digital Sylhet City is the realisation of an election pledge – by the lawmaker of Sylhet 1 constituency and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen – made during the last general election.
The foreign minister promised to digitise Sylhet and thus inaugurated the Digital Sylhet City project in July last year with the State Minister for ICT division Zunaid Ahmed Palak.
The Bangladesh Computer Council is implementing the project while the Sylhet City Corporation will operate it.
Some of the key features of the Digital Sylhet City project are: a public Wifi zone, a surveillance system based on Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and artificial intelligence for facial recognition, vehicle number plate identification, and the pilot phase of an online tracking system to ensure people's easy access to their citizen data.
Eight months after launching the project, the majority of Sylhet city is about to enjoy free Wifi services. Around 500 people can enjoy internet services simultaneously through each of the 126 routers – while 100 of them can use the internet with the maximum available speed.
A single router can provide an internet speed of 10 megabytes per second within a 100-metre radius of the spot.
In addition, for the first time in the country, 110 IP cameras have been installed at important spots in the city – for facial recognition and vehicle identification – while the Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital is about to become automated to store and provide patients' health records online.
Of the 126 routers in Sylhet city: one is in Choukidekhi area, four are in Ambarkhana Point, two are in Dargah Gate, three are in Chowhatta, five are in the Hasan Market area, four are in Zindabazar, and three more are around the Zindabazar foot-overbridge area.