Centre approves PM WANI to unleash Wi-Fi revolution

Cabinet approves PM-WANI scheme for proliferation of public Wi-Fi network

This would entail a complete framework involving multiple elements -- Public Data Office (PDO), Public Data Office Aggregators and app providers

Representative Image. Credit: Getty Images

The Centre on Wednesday approved a framework for the proliferation of public Wi-Fi networks through PM Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM WANI) scheme.

“The Cabinet has cleared the PM-WANI public WiFi project that will unleash a broadband revolution in India and empower the lives of ordinary Indians, much like the PCO model of past decades that drove mass proliferation of basic telephone services,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after cabinet meeting.

The cabinet approved the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended aggregator-model, paving the way for new categories of public data offices (PDOs), public data office aggregators (PDOAs) and app providers to deliver public WiFi services without a licence.

"PM Wi-Fi Access Network Interface to unleash a massive WIFI network in India. With this, public data centres will be opened across the country," Prasad said.

The proposed categories of PDOs, the Minister said, won’t need a licence, and also won’t have to pay any entry fee or go through a registration process. The aggregators, who will work closely with the PDOs and app providers, will be registered within a week of putting in an application.

The Union Minister also said that the proposal will promote growth of public Wi-Fi networks in the country.

Prasad further added that businesses can take services from Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio or any such internet service provider (ISP) and use their physical location to provide Wi-Fi to anyone who happens to be nearby.

At present the country has around one lakh WiFi hotspots against the target of 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022, set by National Digital Communications Policy, 2018.

The TRAI  had 4 years ago recommended the aggregator-model, involving PDOAs, to deliver public WiFi services.