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"Private sector needs to own network to connect India seamlessly via wireless broadband:" Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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NEW DELHI: Member of Parliament and technology entrepreneur Rajeev Chandrasekhar today underlined the need for making high quality Wi-Fi available and accessible across the country. He said that it was imperative for the Government to partner with States and private service providers in the space. 

Chandrasekhar also recommended that while the government could own the fundamental policy making but the network owner should be from the private sector to make the initiative a success.  

While delivering the inaugural address on ‘India, Wi-Fi and Smart City Development’ at the Wireless Broadband Vision Forum, Chandrasekhar said that it would be appropriate to provide Wi-Fi access free of cost to a selected faction who deserves it rather than making it free for all. He added that any programme started with the aim of providing free service suffers from suboptimal facilities and poor quality.

The forum was organised by FICCI in collaboration with Global Wi-Fi Broadband Alliance to advance the policy objectives of the Digital India programme. 

Chandrasekhar said Digital India has tangible benefits and can have a multiplier effect on the country’s productivity and GDP. He added that India’s internet penetration stands at a low level today, hence it provides a huge opportunity for the government and private sector to make India connected via internet.

Delhi Government's Delhi Dialogue Commission vice chairman Ashish Khetan, who gave his keynote on ‘Delhi Wi-Fi - A Smart City Perspective from India’, said it was one of the biggest challenges for the city Government to draft a policy for providing seamless access and quality service of Wi-Fi at an affordable cost. 

He added that within a few weeks the Request for Proposal (RFP) would be finalised and placed in the public domain.

Khetan also said that the government proposes to provide speed of 1 Mbps and 1GB data download free for the citizens of Delhi. In the first phase of the programme, all Delhi colleges, including government and private, would be enabled with public Wi-Fi. Subsequently, in the second phase, all villages in Delhi would have Wi-Fi facility and in the third phase the focus would be on connecting unauthorized colonies of Delhi. 

Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) CEO Shrikant Shenwai said these were exciting times for Wi-Fi operators, Wi-Fi equipment vendors and above all Wi-Fi users. The potential of Wi-Fi worldwide is vast and growing. The WBA was committed to helping Wi-Fi fulfill that potential.

He said end-user focus for next generation Wi-Fi experience means making it easier for users to find and access hotspot service locations; offering a user experience that is simple and consistently better; and allowing seamless interoperability, across devices, operators & networks and WBA aims to achieve this by bringing the stakeholders on the same platform.

FICCI Communications & Digital Economy Committee chairman Virat Bhatia said that to advance the policy objectives of the Digital India programme, the Wireless Broadband Vision Forum facilitated a thought-provoking dialogue that explored the opportunities and challenges associated with delivering transformational connectivity for the Government of India’s 100 Smart Cities Program. The forum presented an opportunity to meet with global experts from Singapore, San Jose and Seoul and leading Indian policy makers, government officials, operators and ecosystem players in this space.

FICCI DG Arbind Prasad said that the Wireless Broadband Vision Forum is an initiative to promote the Government of India’s programs of Digital India, Make in India and Smart City. He added that FICCI is partnering with WBA to promote Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the country as wireless is the future of internet and India deserves a revolution in this sector as well on the lines of the one witnessed in the telecom space.

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