Regulators

Public Wi-Fi: TRAI plans to evolve model, releases paper

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NEW DELHI: Realising the importance of public Wi-Fi networks as complementary to existing landline and cellular mobile infrastructure in improving broadband penetration and adoption of Digital India, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has released a second consultation paper Wi-fi this year.

TRAI wants reactions on the paper on model for nation-wide interoperable and scalable wi-fi networks by 25 November.

The objective of the new paper is two-fold:

a) To explore whether the model proposed in this Note can be incorporated in Public Wi-Fi networks to promote appropriate monetization and business models for sustainable and scalable infrastructure deployment.

b) To explore the roles of different stakeholders in the Public Wi-Fi network value chain and build an ecosystem for promoting scalable and sustainable partnerships for large scale nation wide deployment.

Earlier on 13 July 2016, TRAI had issued a paper on “Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks” which was followed by reactions and then a workshop in Bengaluru.

A few of the important issues pointed out in the consultation paper for a successful, scalable and sustainable public Wi-Fi infrastructure in the country include (i) technical interoperability and seamless connectivity of Wi-Fi networks (ii) innovative payment, commercialization, and monetization models; and (iii) collaborative partnerships between various entities of the ecosystem.

Public Wi-Fi networks can be effective complement to the wired and wireless mobile broadband infrastructure in the country to achieve the vision of Digital India as stated above.

In view of the discussions held, the questions posed by TRAI are:

Q1. Is the architecture suggested in the consultation note for creating unified authentication and payment infrastructure will enable nationwide standard for authentication and payment interoperability?

Q2. Would you like to suggest any alternate model?

Q3. Can Public Wi-Fi access providers resell capacity and bandwidth to retail users? Is “light touch regulation” using methods such as “registration” instead of “licensing” preferred for them?

Q4. What should be the regulatory guidelines on “unbundling” Wi-Fi at access and backhaul level?

Q5. Whether reselling of bandwidth should be allowed to venue owners such as shop keepers through Wi-Fi at premise? In such a scenario please suggest the mechanism for security compliance

Q6. What should be the guidelines regarding sharing of costs and revenue across all entities in the public Wi-Fi value chain? Is regulatory intervention required or it should be left to forbearance and individual contracting?

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