Regulators

Wi-Fi: TRAI plans to set up 'open' WANI, seeks inter-operable, sachet-priced model

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a document inviting participation of entities to be part of a Pilot to establish Nation-wide Public Data Offices (PDOs). Any interested entity (company, proprietorship, societies, non-profits, etc.) registered in India can apply to TRAI latest by 25 July 2017.

The Internet is the single most self-empowering infrastructure available for a citizen in the 21st century. The World Bank observed that a 10% increase in Internet penetration leads to a 1.4% increase in GDP. Access to the Internet is considered a basic human right by many countries globally, including Estonia, Finland and France. In India, access to data is still limited due to poor coverage of fiber & telecom and prohibitive pricing of cellular data. Public Wi-Fi hotspots hold an important place in the last-mile delivery of broadband to users. It allows offloading telecom networks to ease congestion, and will be crucial when the next billion loT devices come online.

Based on the recommendation of TRAI on "Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks" issued on 9 March 2017, TRAI invites all interested entities to be a part of a Pilot to establish nation-wide, pay-as-you-go PDOs.

The vision of this initiative is to establish an Open Architecture based Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (WANI), such that;

• Any entity (company, proprietorship, societies, non-profits, etc.) should easily be able to setup a paid public Wi-Fi Access Point:

• Users should be able to easily discover WANI compliant SSIDs, do one click authentication and payment, and connect one or more devices in single session.

• The experience for a small entrepreneur to purchase, self-register, set-up and operate a PDO must be simple, low-touch and maintenance-free.

• The products available for consumption should begin from "sachet-sized", i.e. low denominations ranging from Rs 2 to Rs 20, etc.

• Providers (PDO provider, Access Point hardware/software, user authentication and KYC provider, and payment provider) are unbundled to eliminate silos and closed systems. This allows multiple parties in the ecosystem to come together and enable large scale adoption.

Objectives of the pilot are:

• Demonstrate that unbundling of services reduces rework, speeds up development and hence is the most effective way to tackle this complex problem.

• Prove that Multi-provider, inter-operable, collaborative model increases the overall innovation in the system, dismantles monopolies and encourages passing of benefits to end user.

• Test the specifications in real life conditions, and suggest improvements.

• Jointly develop a business model that fairly allocates value to each provider.

• Fine tune the technology and finalize the specifications based on pilot.

• Test out integrated paymernt methods such as coupons (purchased usmg cash by user or gifted to user), credit/debit cards, net banking, e-wallets, and UPI.

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