Cabinet approves setting up of public WiFi networks

PM-WANI will enable public data offices as hotspots, which could even be kirana and tea shops

December 09, 2020 04:18 pm | Updated December 10, 2020 10:34 am IST - New Delhi

MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA, 22/01/2016: Commuters use free wifi service at Mumbai Central station, inaugurated by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. RailTel, the telecom arm of the Indian Railways, in association with Google launched free public Wi-Fi service and plans to roll out this project to 100 stations across the country by year-end. 
Photo: Prashant Nakwe

MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA, 22/01/2016: Commuters use free wifi service at Mumbai Central station, inaugurated by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. RailTel, the telecom arm of the Indian Railways, in association with Google launched free public Wi-Fi service and plans to roll out this project to 100 stations across the country by year-end. Photo: Prashant Nakwe

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.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.