Ease of doing business in Digital India: Cabinet approves setting up public WiFi hotspots across country.

In an effort to increase ease of doing business and take another step towards Digital India, the Union Cabinet today approved the proposal for setting up public Wi-Fi networks across the length and breadth of the country. This public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be known as PM-WANI. The cabinet said that the move is expected to be more business-friendly and in line with efforts for ease of doing business. It further said that Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated the delivery of stable and high-speed Broadband Internet services to an increasingly large number of subscribers in the country including areas that do not have 4G mobile coverage, which can be achieved by deployment of public Wi-Fi. It is believed that the proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs, and boost the country’s GDP. The government has not put any license fee for providing broadband internet services using public Wi-Fi hotspots, which is further expected to encourage its proliferation and penetration across the country.

While the Public Data Office (PDO) will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers, Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA) will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to authorization and accounting. Further, the App Provider will develop an App to register users and discover WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the App for accessing the internet service.

While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and App Providers will get themselves registered with DoT through an online registration portal, without paying any registration fee. The government said that the registration shall be granted within 7 days of the application.

Meanwhile, the government is also working on the BharatNet programme that aims to provide a minimum of 100 Mbit/s broadband connectivity to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country. This covers nearly 6.25 lakh villages, to improve telecommunications in India and reach the campaign goal of Digital India.

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