Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) plans to push down the data rates to 2 paise per MB. This would roughly translate to about Rs 20 per GB. Trai plans to increase the Wi-Fi hotspot penetration across the country to give easy access to Wi-Fi and Internet in extension.

According to a report by Times of India, Trai has plans to allow individuals, communities, small-time entrepreneurs, content or even application providers to provide high-speed internet to the consumers. The move is in line with plans announced last year, where Trai wants to make public Wi-Fi hotspots as common as Public Call Offices were once were.

The government authority believes that increasing the network reach and density across the country will enable access to the internet at a much more affordable price point. A top Trai official told TOI, “We see mass-scale Wi-Fi deployment as a means to democratise the penetration of affordable good speed internet across urban cities and rural areas.”

The regulator further points that increase in the adoption of Public Wi-Fi will take the load off from the telecom operators, hence improving other services like call quality and broadband speeds. Using Wi-Fi hotspots to ease the burden on the Telecom sector is not something new. Faced with scarce spectrum, and the inability to purchase the available spectrum at the high prices, BSNL started rolling out over 40,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.

The report points that Trai will soon send this proposal to Telecom ministry for changes in licensing and other rules mentioned. A Trai top executive pointed out, “The idea is to ensure that a consumer can easily move from his mobile network to low-cost public Wi-Fi hotspots without having to go through multiple authentication issues. New intermediaries to provide Wi-Fi will help have higher touch-points for the internet that can run into millions.”

The regulatory body further pointed out that interoperability of Internet will be a major factor in the success of Public Wi-Fi. One important thing to note is that maintaining a public Wi-Fi hotspot is easier and cheaper with low operational costs in comparison to the mobile broadband networks like 2G, 3G or 4G. Trai wants to make switching from network to public Wi-Fi hotspots a process that is invisible to the end user, by allowing for seamless interoperability between service providers.

Trai pointed out that Wi-Fi hotspots have seen a 568 percent increase from 2013 to 2016 in comparison to the 12 percent growth in India.

The regulator also issued a consultation paper for Public Wi-Fi last year.

Publish date: March 7, 2017 5:04 pm| Modified date: March 7, 2017 6:38 pm

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