The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has mooted for a model based on public data offices (PDOs) for providing Wi-Fi hotspots across the country with prices starting as low as Rs 2.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday presented a report on public Wi-Fi open pilot project to telecom minister Manoj Sinha, in which the regulator has mooted for a model based on public data offices (PDOs) for providing Wi-Fi hotspots across the country with prices starting as low as Rs 2. The PDO model recommended by Trai is loosely based on the public calling offices (PCOs) model, which in the late 1980s, revolutionised the communications sector allowing people-to-people contact at affordable rates. The PCO model was considered to have heralded the first telecom revolution in India in which the Centre for Development of Telematics (CDOT), a government owned enterprise, played a major role. “Broadband proliferation is an important pillar of Digital India. Wi-Fi is the cheapest option, given low cost of equipment and free spectrum ,” Trai chairman RS Sharma told reporters after presenting the report to the telecom minister. The recommendations include a Wi-Fi network architecture that supports one-time authentication requirement, interoperability across different Wi-Fi networks, ease of payment through any instrument and above all, inexpensive service. “To provide a simplified, consistent experience means unbundling authentication, payment and accounting from hardware and software running on the access point. This will allow small entrepreneurs such as tea shops, grocery shops, to set up and maintain access points, whereas device manufacturers, payment companies, ISPs/telcos and consumer internet companies can provide the remaining pieces to set up PDOs,” Trai suggested in the report. It conducted a pilot project in order to demonstrate a proof of concept for interoperability and has recommended that the products available for consumption begin from sachet size, that is, low denominations as low as Rs 2. Based on consultation with stakeholders, Trai has estimated that a Wi-Fi network of 20 hotspots designed for a tier-II city catering to around 40,000 subscribers and 10,000 concurrent users is estimated to cost less than 2 paise per MB.