'This Will Be The UPI Of Connectivity Services': Cabinet Approves Public Wi-Fi Access Network Scheme PM-WANI

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 9, 2020 06:15 PM +05:30 IST
'This Will Be The UPI Of Connectivity Services': Cabinet Approves Public Wi-Fi Access Network Scheme PM-WANIUnion Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of Wi-Fi networks for public use without licence fee under Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface or PM-WANI.

The move is aimed at promoting expansion of public Wi-Fi networks in the country.

Among other decisions, the Cabinet also approved the provision of submarine optical fibre cable connectivity between mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands.

Former TRAI Chairman R S Sharma hailed this initiative and said that it will enable the creation of millions of inter-operable Wi-Fi Hotspots in India. This he says will democratise content distribution and result in affordable broadband access to millions.

"This will be the UPI of connectivity services", said Sharma.

Under this scheme the Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) will provide public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across the country to accelerate proliferation of Broadband Internet services.

The PDO will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers and the PDOA will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorisation and Accounting.

An app developer will develop mobile applications to register users and help them discover WANI compliant hotspots near them.

While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and App Providers need to get themselves registered with DoT without paying any registration fee. Registration shall be granted within 7 days of the application.

This is expected to be more business friendly and in line with efforts for ease of doing business. 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.

“Proliferation of broadband services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon” Union IT and Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a briefing post the Cabinet meeting.

He added that the proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment, but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs and boost the country’s GDP.

A village boy, without access to expensive books, will now be able to download an e-book using public WiFi, the minister said. Pricing of the public WiFi services, though, he said would be left to market forces.

Furthermore, the Cabinet also gave approval to the USOF Scheme for providing mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the north-eastern region.

The project will provide mobile coverage to 2,374 uncovered villages.

With Inputs From IANS

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