Mumbai plans citywide Wi-Fi network

Mumbai, India will be issuing a public tender in August inviting companies to bid for the deployment of a citywide Wi-Fi network. The city does not want to spend any public funds on the project (sounds like SF, Philadelphia and Houston). Anyway, the wireless network will be an intranet, which people can use to communicate with one another. They want to get the network up and running within six months, which I find too ambitious. We have already seen how long it takes for cities to set up citywide wireless networks.

Apart from the business model (how will the provider cover the cost of investment and make money?), I have been wondering why cities have not set up wireless citywide intranets for their own telecommunications as well as their residents’ use? After all, most people only call people in the same city. Why go through a mobile operator if you are just calling within your community on the local wireless intranet with a SIP phone or your portable device?