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Interoperable Bharat Wi-Fi to provide 1mn hotspots by '19-end

National Frequency Allocation Plan unveiled at 3-day India Mobile Congress 2018

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NEW DELHI: Indian Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has said the country will rollout one million Wi-Fi hotspots in the country by December 2019 via Bharat Wi-Fi, a country-wide common inter-operable platform. His colleague, IT and Electronics Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad later highlighted the government was also taking steps towards effective data protection as the country becomes more digital.

Announcing the connectivity initiative at the inauguration of the second edition of the India Mobile Congress 2018 (IMC) yesterday here, the Telecom Minister said Bharat Wi-Fi will be owned and operated by telecom service providers, ISPs and virtual network operators (VNOs) and consumers will have access to Wi-Fi hotspots of any of the partnering operators.

The interoperable Wi-Fi initiative is part of the Indian government’s fibre optic project BharatNet that aims to connect the country’s 250,000 gram panchayats or local village administrations and has “put mobility in the centre of next digital revolution”, the Minister highlighted, adding rise in convergence of services has led to adoption of new technologies.    

Pointing out that revenue generation in India’s telecom sector has seen a rise of 220 per cent in the last four years, Sinha said, along with the information technology segment, the two sectors presently contribute approximately 6.5 per cent to the country’s GDP and has the potential to grow further.

Sinha, along with his other ministerial colleagues and industry stalwarts, including Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani and Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal, also unveiled the National Frequency Allocation Plan 2018 (NFAP), a roadmap for the Indian digital communications industry.

The NFAP released a quantum of 605 MHz license-exempt spectrum in 5GHz band for wireless access services and radio local area networks in outdoor to meet the ever-growing appetite for data (from a current figure of 50 MHz since 2007).

The frequency allocation plan also offered over 30 license-exempt bandwidths for short range devices (SRDs), ultra-wideband devices (UWDs) and additional spectrum for M2M services, creating opportunities for the public to enjoy benefits from technologies and enabling the industry to build domestic manufacturing eco-system. India has signalled its spectrum plans for 5G services aspiring to adopt the next generation technology.

“The country is at the cusp of a digital revolution with disruptions happening in each and every sector and industry. With growing smartphone and internet penetration and with the finalisation of National Digital Communication Policy 2018, these are exciting times for the telecom sector, and the society at large,” Sinha said, adding that the launch of several innovative products will pave the path to accomplish Prime Minister Modi’s “vision of a digitally connected India”.

The three-day India Mobile Congress 2018 has been organised by Department of Telecoms and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Earlier in the day while RIL’s Mukesh Ambani said Jio is ready to again disrupt the market with its fixed-line broadband service, Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal exhorted the government to make more telecom industry-friendly policies as the sector continues to be highly taxed, similar to the tobacco industry, which is proving to be detrimental.

Among the key highlights of the first day of the IMC was the participation of 5G trials by companies like Reliance Jio InfoComm, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm.

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