Indian Government Aiming to Install Over 5 Lakh WiFi Hotspots by This Year End: Telecom Secretary

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The Indian government is preparing to give a major push to its national Wi-Fi rollout plan by increasing the total WiFi hotspot count from 38,000 to over 5 lakh hotspots across the country. The Wi-Fi rollout will be supported by the second phase of the BharatNet project.


"The second phase in many ways will be a game changer, one because of the big Wi-Fi rollout that we are targeting, that is by the end of this year we should go up to 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots from 38,000," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said in an interview. She added that the plan is to provide at least one Wi-Fi hotspot in every single village of the country.

The government will also use the models of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to deliver broadband through cable.

Sundararajan told the Economic Times that the new Telecom policy would focus on fiberisation in urban parts of the country, even as the BharatNet Project continues to connect rural parts. Fiberisation, according to analysts, will not only help telco take broadband to the home, but also help them in offload data from wireless networks which are seeing congestion in urban parts of the country. Furthermore, fiberisation is said to help telcos create a sound backhaul for the 5G technology.

"We will have to benchmark how much fiber we are putting in every day to achieve 4G and 5G. So, it has to become a national priority, with state governments and municipalities recognising it. Tower providers have been asking for the right of way and to be recognised as infrastructure providers, although the notification is yet to come. We are looking at giving a big fillip to that in the coming policy because tower industry and fiber are equally important for India," she was quoted as saying.

In a separate interaction with Mint, the secretary said that the first draft of the national telecom policy would be ready by the end of this year, which will then be put up for public consultation.

The regulator, Trai, had its first open house on new telecom policy this week, while the second open house will happen on 24 January.

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