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Public Wi-Fi hotspots have potential to generate 2-3 cr jobs this year

Proliferation of public WiFi hotspots in rural and urban areas will lead to increased employment for micro and small entrepreneurs in these regions by providing them with an additional source of income, Department of Telecommunication (DoT) Secretary K Rajaraman said.

Speaking at the 3rd WiFi India Virtual Summit 2022 on Saturday, organised by the BroadBand India Forum, Rajaraman said that telecom and internet service providers would also benefit from such sale of internet recharge vouchers to public data offices.

“Developments under the scheme have been steady with already more than 56,000 access points deployed. There is still scope for further development of WiFi ecosystem in the country. By conservative estimate of each hotspot enabling 2-3 direct and indirect employment opportunities, the creation of 10 million hotspots as per the NDCP (National Digital Communications Policy) target by 2022 would potentially generate 20-30 million job opportunity in the small and medium scale sectors,” he said.

In December 2020, the Union Cabinet had, in a bid to improve wireless internet connectivity across the country, approved setting up of public WiFi networks across the country.

The WiFi is provided through public data offices (PDOs) for which are no licence, registration or any other fees applicable.

The scheme, dubbed Prime Minister WiFi Access Network Interface (PM- WANI), envisaged setting up of PDOs and PDO aggregators that look after the authorisation and accounting of PDOs. The idea of a PDO was first floated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in 2017.

Six months later, it set up the initial pilot project for PDO, in which companies such as Facebook, and the government’s C-DOT had participated. Like a PCO, the PDO allows users to connect to a public WiFi system for a limited session depending on the internet pack chosen by the user.

These internet packages can either by charged on per minute or per hour basis by the PDOs. In 2018, when Trai had floated the test model, it mooted that users should be able to buy “sachet-sized” internet plans, that varied between Rs 2 and Rs 20, and can be used anytime’s. IndianExpress

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