GoI Targets 2 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots by 2021 (Under PM Wani)



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    Aiming to boost the “Digital India” vision, the government is working to set up 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country by the end of 2021. This massive connectivity program will be built under the recently launched PM Wani initiative.

    The public Wi-Fi access will see a four-fold increase by end of 2021. According to Mr Anshu Prakash, Secretary, Telecom Department, the government’s drive to kick start registrations for PM Wani will begin soon.

    All India W-Fi Hotspot Scheme:

    According to the Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018-2023), there will be nearly 623 million public Wi-Fi hotspots across the world by 2023. As per the calculations of the TRAI, India should have 100 million Wi-Fi hotspots by 2023.

    However, India has about 0.5 Million Wi-Fi hotspot access points right now. And this figure will see a four-fold increase as per the DoT. The C-DoT is working to make W-Fi access boxes at half the market price.

    As soon as the technology development centre of the DoT gives permission, the registration process would start. One can expect all the formalities to be completed by the first week of January 2021.

    Registration is Open to All for Becoming a PDOA:

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    The PM Wani (Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) service is open to all. Anyone can register as a Public Data Operator Aggregator (PDOA). The process seems to be simple.

    By filling the required details in a single page at the central registry portal, one can register as a PDOA. If there is no response from the portal within 7 days, then assume that the registration is deemed approved. Or else, the concerned authority will look into the issue.

    Connecting More People to Facilitate Local Business:

    The PDOA will tie-up with small businesses to install Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. It can be anywhere including market places, tourist spots, highway restaurants, coffee cafes etc.

    These entrepreneurs become Public Data Operators (PDOs). A PDO could be the owner of a grocery store or Kirana shop and even a pan vendor and doesn’t need a license or registration. However, PDOs will have to buy bandwidth from telcos and internet service providers and resell them to consumers.

    Mr Anshu Prakash reiterated that meetings will be held between PM Wani stakeholders and various telcos and ISPs to start this process.

    In this PM Wani setup, the PDOAs will provide the necessary backend support to PDOs. This entire platform will be developed by the C-DoT. It includes authorization, authentication, accounting, voucher management and linking to payment gateways.

    Public Wi-Fi through PM Wani App:

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    Those who want to access Public Wi-Fi should open the PM Wani App and choose from a list of all Wani PDOAs providing network connectivity. This is like purchasing an internet voucher from your ISP.

    Interestingly, this PM Wani initiative was proposed by the telecom regulator 4 years back. And the launch is expected within a month of its cabinet approval.

    The pilot project itself constitutes 70 stakeholders from the ecosystem including ISPs and ICT manufacturers. The Telecom Department (DoT) has also formed five working groups to minimize hiccups in rolling out PM Wani.

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