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BIF celebrates World Wi-Fi Day!

While nearly 80% of data traffic occurs indoors, where higher-frequency 5G signals struggle to penetrate, Wi-Fi remains the backbone for indoor data consumption. While the 20% traffic carrying cellular technology has spectrum at par with rest of the world, India has a third of the spectrum for WiFi as compared to advanced economies. To address this challenge and the quest for providing for Public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide broadband access everywhere, India requires sufficient delicensed spectrum as well as a robust Public Wi-Fi network that complements the Cellular Networks and enables maintain good quality of service for these networks while providing excellent quality of experience for the end user.

Recognising this need, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended a decentralised Public Wi-Fi Network Architecture that unbundles the provisioning of last mile service provisioning from the infrastructure /bandwidth providers. After approval by the Union Cabinet on 9th December 2020, this was named as the PM-WANI Public Wi-Fi initiative. Keeping in mind the importance of Public Wi-Fi as a pillar of affordable and reliable digital connectivity for the masses, Government’s latest 6G Vision document unveiled by Hon’ble PM in 2023, has targeted the need to have 50 million Public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2030 as part of the “Broadband for All” vision. However, despite these initiatives, the current number of Public Wi-Fi hotspots in India remains low (around 1.8 lakh as per TRAI).

To discuss and deliberate about the future roadmap of Wi-Fi, in particular, Public Wi-Fi and what needs to be done to enable accelerated growth of the same, Broadband India Forum (BIF) successfully organized a full-day event on World Wi-Fi Day (June 20th) at The LaLit, New Delhi. The event also showcased demos of the new and advanced Wi-Fi technologies viz. Wi-Fi 6E & Wi-Fi 7 and applications of AR/VR/XR based 4D glasses and applications around healthcare, education & disaster management besides providing ultra-high speed and low latency broadband access.

The event had eminent speakers and panellists. Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Secretary of the Department of Science & Technology, gave the inaugural address and was the chief guest of the event. Some of the prominent speakers who spoke at the event included Shri Robert Ravi, DDG (S.R.I), Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications; Shri. S.K. Marwaha, Scientist G & Group Coordinator (Broadband & Communication Technologies) at MeitY; Shri. Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, DDG, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications; Shri Manoj Tandon, Director, Project Operations & Maintenance, RailTel; Shri Pranav Nehru, COO, Atria Convergence Technologies and Shri. Hiral Modi, Technical Product/Programme Management (Wireless/Carriers) Meta.

The event featured three engaging panel discussions on:

  • Enablers for Wi-Fi Proliferation in India
  • 5G and Wi-Fi Convergence for Seamless Connectivity
  • From Dead Zones to Data Streams through Public Wi-Fi

Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology said “Modern & Advanced Wifi technologies viz. Wifi 6E and WiFi 7 is crucial for India’s digital ambitions. It complements 5G by filling the coverage gaps and 5G like capacities while indoors and in dense urban areas thereby ensuring seamless connectivity for consumers. The future to a resilient and robust digital infrastructure inside buildings would involve modern Wi-Fi in a big way.“

T.V. Ramachandran, President, BIF said “India presents a tremendous opportunity for the widespread deployment of Public Wi-Fi hotspots. This proliferation, potentially driven by initiatives like PM WANI, is crucial to achieving ‘Broadband for All’ and fulfilling the vision of a truly inclusive Digital India. By making broadband easily accessible and affordable, Public Wi-Fi will be a game-changer.”

CT Bureau

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