The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal for setting up public WiFi hotspots across the country via public data offices or PDOs, which could even be a kirana shop or a paan shop. The move, aimed at helping accelerate the uptake of broadband Internet services, will not require the PDOs to get a license or pay a fee.
The public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface, which will be called ‘PM-WANI’, was first recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2017. This will involve multiple players, including PDOs, Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOA), app providers, and a central registry.
PDOs — comparable to a PCO or a cybercafe — will establish, maintain, and operate Wi-Fi access points and deliver broadband services to subscribers, while the PDOAs will be aggregators of PDOs and perform functions such as authorisation and accounting. The app provider will develop the app to register users and discover PM-WANI compliant WiFi hotspots nearby. The details of all three will be maintained by the registry.
According to TRAI, in most major economies, for 50%-70 % of their total usage time, mobile users use WiFi technology to communicate. However, in India, this figure is less than 10%. Service providers had in 2018 stated that they aimed to provide 5 lakh hotspots by March 31, 2019 and 10 lakh hotspots by September 30, 2019. However, these targets have not been achieved.
“The move will help unleash a Wi-Fi revolution in the country. For PDOs, there will be no license or fee or registration. This could be a tea shop or kirana shop…PM-WANI is going to be a power transformative digital platform to empower ordinary Indians… it offers a lot of scope for various sectors, particularly education,” Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said while announcing the decision.
An official release added that while no registration will be required for PDOs, the PDOAs and app providers will get themselves registered with the Department of Telecommunications through an online registration portal without paying any registration fee.
Registration will be granted within seven days of the application, else they will be deemed registered, Mr. Prasad added.
“COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated delivery of stable and high speed broadband internet (data) services to an increasingly large number of subscribers in the country, including areas which do not have 4G mobile coverage. This can be achieved by deployment of Public Wi-Fi,” the government said.
It added that this would also help create employment and enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs, and boost India’s GDP.
Source: The Hindu