Just after a day of TRAI's recommendation on ‘Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi,' the Broadband India Forum President, Mr T.V Ramachandran praised the recommendations of the regulator by calling it as a huge step towards expediting the availability of affordable and accessible broadband everywhere and to achieve the vision of Digital India.
He said, and he hoped that the Department of Telecom would provide their first consent to these recommendations and pave the way for boosting broadband penetration in the country currently languishing at a very low 18 percent as compared to that of mobile which is at 93 percent. Explaining the importance of this regulation, Mr Ramachandran pointed out that based on Global Average of 1 hotspot for every 150 persons; India should have approximately eight Million hotspots. However, the total number of hotspots as of 2016 based on TRAI’s report was only 31,500. He was confident with the implementation of these recommendations; the number of hotspots would accelerate to help bridge the huge deficit that exists.
Mr Ramachandran went on to further state that this would lead to the introduction of some new small time players in Wi-Fi provisioning space who will be able to boost the broadband availability to the masses. Besides he also mentioned that due to this, there is likely to be a massive explosion of backhaul requirements and TSPs are likely to benefit out of this hugely.
Pointing out some of the salient and path-breaking recommendations made by the Regulator, he mentioned a few as follows:
a) Clarification of the misunderstanding that arose in the UL-VNO regulations regarding the clause of exclusivity by asking the DOT to amend the UL-VNO guidelines to clarify that a UL-VNO can parent to various NSOs for the offering of Internet services.
b) Re-iteration of its earlier position regarding freeing up new spectrum bands for Wifi access in the 5.8Ghz band and to expedite opening up of the E & V bands for improving backhaul capacity ( E band) and for both backhaul and high capacity access in case of V band
c) Suggestions towards a reduction in duties to make WiFi access devices cheaper so as to pave the way for affordable WiFi services in public places, and in turn, boost broadband penetration.
d) Suggestion for the creation of a new category of `public data office aggregators’ (PDOAs) who shall deliver Public WiFi services. It has also suggested that such aggregators work with small entrepreneurs who will provide the venues for `public data offices’ for such mass WiFi deployment.Under specific registration requirements ( to be formulated by DOT ). This move shall encourage Village Level Entrepreneurship & thus provide substantial employment opportunities in rural areas
e) The regulator has also permitted ease of authentication when roaming across several hotspots and also through a process of one-time authentication using eKYC, eCAF, MAC ID or through a secure Mobile app.
Mr Ramachandran said that BIF shared the vision of TRAI to decentralise the internet service sector and open up the sector for the provision of broadband services through a plethora of smaller players through the simple process of ‘ registration ‘.This will result in significant increase in broadband penetration, and the uptake of broadband-enabled services and applications throughout the country that will help catapult India into the top league of nations with a high density of broadband users and higher average speed and capacity consumed per user.