Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union cabinet has cleared a proposal by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allow Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) for setting up public Wi-Fi networks. The move will give a boost to the government’s Digital India initiative and enhance digital connectivity through Public Data Offices (PDOs) across the country.
The move is expected to speed up escalation of broadband internet services via public Wi-Fi networks in the country. There will be no license fee for providing broadband internet through these public Wi-Fi networks, the Union government clarified.
A statement from the Union cabinet said, “Proliferation of broadband services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon.”
As per the cabinet note, the move will not only help in propelling public Wi-Fi networks in the country but, “will also help in proliferation of broadband internet, enhancement of income and employment and empowerment of people.”
Former Trai chairman R S Sharma took to microblogging site Twitter and said, “Cabinet today approved the WANI project recommended by TRAI. It will create millions of inter-operable Wi-Fi Hotspots in the country and democratise the content distribution and broadband access to millions at affordable rates. This will be the UPI of connectivity services.”
As per the Union cabinet, the public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be known as PM-WANI and will be operated by different players in different regions.
While the Public Data Office (PDO) will establish, maintain and operate only WANI-compliant Wi-Fi access points and deliver broadband services to subscribers, Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA) will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to authorisation and accounting.
The private app providers are likely to develop apps to register users and discover WANI-compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the app for accessing the internet service and the Central Registry will maintain the details of app providers, PDOAs, and PDOs.
At first, C-DoT will be maintaining the Central Registry.
According to the guidelines laid for the proposed rollout, no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs. App providers will get themselves registered with DoT through online registration portal – SARALSANCHAR of DoT – without paying any registration fee. The process shall be completed within 7 days of the application.