Cabinet approves setting up of public Wi-Fi networks called PM-WANI

In a bid to provide public Wi-Fi services, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to the proposal of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for setting up of PM – Wi-Fi access network. To unleash a massive WIFI network in India, the government will open public data centres across the country, says Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

This public Wi-Fi access network interface will be known as PM-WANI and there will be no license fee for providing broadband internet through these Wi-Fi networks.

The digital initiative is expected to be more business friendly and in line with efforts for ease of doing business. The 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.

“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,” as per the Cabinet statement.

PM-WANI eco-system will be operated by different players, including Public Data Office (PDO), Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA), app provider and central registry. The PDO will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi access points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.

While PDOA will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to authorisation and accounting, app providers 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. The central registry will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by C-DoT.

While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and app providers will get themselves registered with DoT through online registration portal of DoT, without paying any registration fee. Registration shall be granted within 7 days of the application, the Cabinet said.

As per the Cabinet, 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. Besides, no license fee for providing broadband internet services using public Wi-Fi hotspots will massively encourage its penetration across the length and breadth of the country.


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