Visitors to the Taj Mahal can now tweet and upload selfies using free Wi-Fi, as part of a government program to expand internet access in major cities and tourist areas. Under the scheme, visitors to the 17th century mausoleum can use free Wi-Fi for up to 30 minutes on a new network provided by state-run operator BSNL. Additional time can be purchased under various subscription plans. Federal information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced the launch with a tweet earlier this week.
Expanding internet access has been a priority for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Digital India program aims to put broadband at the core of education, banking, and health services. There are an estimated one billion people in India who lack internet acces, according to a recent study from the consulting firm McKinsey and Facebook (which is targeting India and other developing countries with its own Internet.org program). The Modi government has focused on villages and rural areas, where infrastructure is particularly weak.
India plans to launch Wi-Fi services at other tourist locations around the country. The government has branded the Taj Mahal launch under the tagline "history meets technology," though as The Wall Street Journal notes, some are less enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing laptops and smartphones at the country's most iconic landmark.