The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed the setting up of public Wi-Fi hotspots across the country in a bid to make internet accessible at cheaper rates to consumers and thereby give a big push to the government's Digital India initiative.
Trai is planning to deploy Wi-Fi across the country, in a move that will help provide internet access at affordable cost for the people, says a report in The Times of India.
Public WiFi, if made available on a regular basis, would help ease the pressure on telecom service providers while making available internet access to consumers at cheaper rates.
This will help ease the pressure of competition on telecom and internet service providers, allowing them to concentrate on improving service quality, according to Trai.
Service providers are currently facing stiff competition and have issues of poor call and data quality, the regulator pointed out.
Also, the penetration of Wi-Fi and hotspot is very low in India compared with other countries. While the number of Wi-Fi spots have increased 568 per cent from 2013 to 2016 across the globe, their numbers have grown by a mere 12 per cent in India, Trai noted.
Trai wants to increase Wi-Fi deployment across the country by allowing individuals, communities, small-time entrepreneurs and content and application providers to offer affordable and high-speed internet to the public.
This way Trai expects to offer internet at 2 paisa per MB against the 10 paise per MB of data rate prevailing in the mobile telecom market at present. Trai will soon place its recommendation on the issue before the telecom ministry, says the report.
Besides, the regulator is reported to have proposed to make mobile dta transfer through WiFi convenient for mobile users by removing unnecessary authentication steps. This is also key to the success of the WiFi plan as most users of public WiFi system will be mobile internet users.
If accepted, the ministry will have to look into required infrastructure for setting up Wi-Fi spots across the country.
The regulator is looking at formation of policies and creation of an infrastructure that give a big push in establishing a Wi-Fi grid, covering major towns, cities and rural areas. "Wi-Fi technology holds much promise for a country like India which wants to achieve universal access to information and communication technologies for its population, both in densely-populated urban areas as well as remote rural areas, where the telephone or cable infrastructure are not yet fully deployed," Trai had said.
In any case, the costs of setting up Wi-Fi infrastructure are lower when compared to mobile broadband networks like 2G, 3G and 4G as the technology utilizes unlicensed spectrum and equipment is cheaper and more readily available. Also, its maintenance and operational costs are significantly lower.
Trai has already floated two consultation papers on low-cost public Wi-Fi system.