Regulators

TRAI ideas on public WiFi in three weeks; Mumbai gets 500 hotspots

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MUMBAI: Telecom regulator TRAI has said it will finalise in 20-25 days its views on 'public WiFi networks' terming the affordability and availability of broadband as a "prerequisite" for growth of digital transactions. Public WiFi networks would offer data connectivity at 10 per cent of the prevailing rates.

TRAI chairman R S Sharma said their recommendations would come in in 20-25 days. The basic objective of Digital India was to encourage digital transactions of all kinds, he said, adding that the broadband access needed to be ubiquitous, reliable and robust.

In its consultation paper floated in July last year, TRAI had said that it is estimated that cost per MB in Wi-Fi Network could be less than 2 paise per MB while consumers on an average are paying around 23 paise per MB for the data usage in the cellular network like 2G, 3G and 4G.

The broadband shortage with regard to wired infrastructure will also be addressed through the growth of community WiFI hotspots. Digital payment channels have seen major rise in transactions after demonetisation.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the rollout of the largest public WiFi service in Mumbai by launching 500 live hotspots across Mumbai. The hotspots in the metro will go up to 1,200 by 1 May (Maharashtra Day), Fadnavis assured.

The state's mega-project to turn Mumbai into a "WiFi city" was announced in August 2015. For its free internet, the government has been using the state-run MTNL network. The free network is good for either 1GB of data (offered at 20Mbps) or 30 minutes, whichever is reached first.

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