Loss-making state-owned telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) is busying itself with public Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile wallet services with the government embarking on a wholesale switch to digital platform for all its services and transactions.
With mobile emerging as a platform to deliver governance and utility services to people, the state-run telecom network operator is said to be working on key National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) infrastructure, including the setting up of Wi-Fi hotspots for the public, mobile wallet and mobile governance services.
BSNL and its sister network MTNL see big increase in revenue opportunity with the government leveraging information technology for effective delivery of governance to common citizens.
While the mobile wallet, or cashless payment facilities, and governance through mobile connectivity are important issues, reports say, BSNL's cash constraints are holding back implementation of the Digital India programme.
Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had, meanwhile, said the government is moving ahead with plans to turn around the loss-making Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL).
The department of telecommunications (DoT) has targeted March 2016 for completion of the broadband project and the first of the Wi-Fi hotspots will be coming up at Varanasi Ganga Ghat within the next two months, reports quoted BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava as saying.
BSNL is planning to put up Wi-fi hotspots at commercially viable places like historical sites, shopping malls and universities.
The payment model planned for Wi-fi spots include offering free browsing for first 15-20 minutes.
BSNL's banking project will offer m-wallet services as part of Jan Dhan Yojna. Besides, the state-run telecom service provider will offer m-governance options such as Digital Mandi and Kisan Seva.
The Digital India project, with its Wi-Fi and m-wallet services and programmes like e-governance, e-health and e-education, etc, is expected to give the state-run network providers a firmer footing with increased cash flows.