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Public wi-fi hotspots

The growth of Internet penetration in India and realisation of its full potential is closely tied to the proliferation of broadband services. “Broadband” is currently defined to mean a data connection that is able to support interactive services, including Internet access, with the capability of a minimum download speed of 512 kbps. It therefore refers to a means of delivering high - speed Internet access services.

Broadband services can be delivered through a number of different access technologies, both wired and wireless, including Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), optical fibre technology, cable TV networks and mobile broadband services like 2G/3G/4G. In addition to these, radio frequency signals (or spectrum) can also be used for the creation of “wireless local area networks” (WLANs), offering an effective mechanism for extending the "last - mile connectivity" of broadband connections to a wider segment of users.

The term Wi - Fi (an acronym for Wireless Fidelity) is commonly used to refer to the array of technical standards (802.11 standards and various amendments to it) developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) that can be used to create WLANs. Strictly speaking, Wi - Fi is a certification provided by the Wireless Broadband Alliance 1 (WBA), which owns and controls the “Wi - Fi Certified” logo that can be applied to products that satisfy certain interoperability criteria.

WLANs created using Wi - Fi technology can be used to connect personal computers, mobile phones, tablets and other appliances to a local network, which in turn provides connectivity to the Internet. These WLANs can be operated for private use, such as in the home, or to create short - range, public networks, known as “hotspots”, which can be found in public places like airport lounges, coffee shops or neighbourhoods.

Status of adoption of Wi-Fi networks

As of 2019, the estimated public wi fi hotspots in India is 0.35 million. The situation of Wi - Fi hotspots is not encouraging in India as we represent one sixth of the world population whereas our share in Wi - Fi hotspots is less than 1/1000.

The National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 set a goal enabling deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022. It also sough to establish NagarNet – Establishing 1 Million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas and JanWiFi – Establishing 2 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas. The density of a public Wi-Fi hotspot in India is one per 39,723 people. 

Public Wi - Fi hotspots have been launched at locations like railway stations, metro stations, hotels, airports, cafes, markets, educational institutions, parks and other public places at various locations in the country.

Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI)

The Union Cabinet durng December 2020 provided its approval for the proposal of DoT for setting up of Public Wi-Fi Networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) to provide public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across length and breadth of the country to accelerate proliferation of Broadband Internet services through Public Wi-Fi network in the country. 

The proposal will promote the growth of Public Wi-Fi Networks in the country and, in turn, will help in proliferation of Broadband Internet, enhancement of income and employment and empowerment of people.

Salient Features

This Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be known as PM-WANI. PM-WANI eco-system will be operated by different players as described herein  under:

  • Public Data Office (PDO): It will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.
  • Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA): It will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorization and Accounting.
  • App Provider: It will develop an App 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.
  • Central Registry: It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by C-DoT.

Objectives

While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and App Providers will get themselves registered with DoT through online registration portal (SARALSANCHAR - https://saralsanchar.gov.in) of 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.

Further, 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 GDP of the country.

Proliferation of Broadband Services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon.

No License Fee for providing broadband internet services using public Wi-Fi Hotspots will massively encourage its proliferation and penetration across the length and breadth of the country. Availability and use of Broadband will enhance incomes, employment, quality of life, ease of doing business etc.

Public Wi-Fi service in railway stations

Free high-speed public Wi-Fi service is now available at railway stations in India. The service is available in 707 Railway stations across India.

The public Wi-Fi service will be accessible by Wi-Fi enabled mobiles. The process of logging onto the network are as follows.

  • Users will have to visit the Wi-Fi Settings of their smartphone, and select the RailWire network.
  • Users then have to open their mobile browser, and then navigate to railwire.co.in.
  • On the RailWire website, users will be prompted to their phone number on the Wi-Fi login screen, and then press Receive SMS.
  • Users will receive an SMS message with a 4-digit OTP (one-time password) code, and they will then have to enter the code at the Wi-Fi login screen, and click Done.
  • Users will then be shown a checkmark, which confirms they are connected to the free Wi-Fi.
Source : RAILTEL

Free Wi Fi at Railway Stations of Konkan Railway

M/s SYSCON / JOISTER are providing the JOISPOT brand Free Wi-Fi as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity to the rural area on the Konkan route. JOISPOT Free Wi-Fi mobile app provides 2 MBPS high speed Wireless internet with unlimited uploads. The system can provide access to about 300 users at bigger stations and about 100 users at smaller stations.

The FREE Wi-Fi Internet bandwidth is provided at the following Railway stations of Konkan Railway:

1. Kolad 2. Mangaon 3. Veer 4. Karanjadi 5. Vinhere 6. Diwankhavati 7. Khed 8. Anjani 9. Chiplun 10. Kamthe 11. Sawarda 12. Aravali Road 13. Sangameshwar 14. Ukshi 15. Bhoke 16. Ratnagiri 17. Nivasar 18. Adavali 19. Vilavade 20. Rajapur Road 21. Vaibhavwadi Road 22. Nandgaon Road 23. Kankavali 24. Sindhudurg 25. Kudal 26. Zarap 27. Sawantwadi Road 28. Madure⁠⁠⁠⁠ .

Free Wi-Fi spots in cities

Free wi-fi has been launched in several cities of the country. The service offers free wifi access upto the first 30 minutes of usage. The users can later recharge using prepaid vouchers. The list of cities where wi-fi hot spots have been launched are as follows.

  • Ahmedabad
  • Bengaluru
  • Chennai
  • Gurgaon
  • Hyderabad
  • Kolkata
  • Lucknow
  • Mumbai
  • New Delhi
  • Patna
  • Visakhapatnam

Source : TRAI Consultation Paper on Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks



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