Prime Minister Wani: Centre targets two million Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2021

New Delhi: The government is targeting a four-fold increase in public Wi-Fi access points to 2 million by the end of 2021, telecom department secretary Anshu Prakash said. He said registrations for applying to offer these services under the recently launched Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM Wani) initiative will open by the first week of January, kick-starting the government’s drive to make Wi-Fi ubiquitous across public spaces.

“C-DoT, the technology development centre of the DoT, is working to make ‘Wi-Fi access boxes’ widely available at around half the market price and we should open the registration process by the first week of next year,” Prakash told ET. Currently, India has some 500,000 hotspot access points.

Once the service is live, anyone can register as a public data operator aggregator (PDOA) by filling in a one-page form on the central registry portal. If there is no response within seven days of filling the form, the registration is deemed approved, Prakash explained.

The PDOA ties-up with small businesses to install Wi-Fi access points and provides hotspots in public spaces and 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 licence or registration. However, PDOs will have to buy bandwidth from telcos and internet service providers and resell them to consumers.

“We are facilitating meetings between PM Wani stakeholders and various telcos and ISPs to start this process,” Prakash said.

PDOAs will provide the entire backend support to PDOs. C-DoT has developed a platform to provide services to PDOAs for applications such as authorisation, authentication, accounting, voucher management and linking to payment gateways.

“Any PDOA can take services from the government’s technology development centre. We have done this to reduce the capex for PDOAs,” Prakash said.

Those who want to access Wi-Fi should open the Wani app and choose from a list of all Wani PDOAs providing connectivity.

“These will also be rated through user experience and you could choose whom to buy bandwidth from and also the amount of time you wish to access, buy a voucher online and start using the service,” another senior government official said, explaining the working of the PM Wani initiative.

The launch comes within a month of the Cabinet clearing the PM Wani plan, which the regulator had proposed four years ago.

“All our efforts are centred on making the PM Wani project live and vibrant very swiftly. All our units including C-DoT and ITI have been roped in for their expertise,” Prakash said

DoT has started an instant messaging group with close to 70 stakeholders from the ecosystem including ISPs and ICT manufacturers that have tied up with it for the pilot project.

“The idea is to interact with them and to iron out any issues,” Prakash added.

DoT has also formed five working groups with industry representation to minimise hiccups in rolling out PM Wani.

Prime Minister Wani: Centre targets two million Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2021 Prime Minister Wani: Centre targets two million Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of 2021 Reviewed by TechCO on 12/22/2020 Rating: 5

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