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Telcos Teaming Up To Give You ‘Relay Wi-Fi’ Cover

Pan-Indian interoperable network will mean no more breaks in Net browsing

Telecom operators, including Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, Reliance Jio and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, are setting up an interoperable Wi-Fi network across the country. This will allow users to hop from one Wi-Fi network to another seamlessly, irrespective of who their mobile operator is.

For example, an Airtel user can walk into a Wi-Fi zone operated by Vodafone-Idea and continue browsing the internet without having to sign in to the new network each time. The telcos have done trials across several hotspots to work out a model to settle bills at the back-end. An official announcement of the platform may be made this week, according to sources in the Department of Telecom.

Currently, when a user wants to use a Wi-Fi network, there are multiple entry barriers. First, the handover from mobile network to the Wi-Fi coverage is not seamless. Every time a user moves from a cellular network to Wi-Fi network, there is a break in the internet access. Secondly, if the Wi-Fi network is managed by an operator that is different from the user’s mobile operator, the user has to sign in to access the service. Under an interoperable network, these issues are sorted out.

“If users are able to carry on using their home broadband or Wi-Fi wherever there is a hotspot in a city or across cities, that would be a huge value enhancer. Wi-Fi roaming will benefit both the industry (by increasing data usage) and customers (through seamless internet access),” said Gajendra Upadhyay, a senior executive working for an internet firm and a telecom industry veteran.

Says TV Ramachandran, President of Broadband India Forum, “Wi-Fi has faster scalability, and is less dependent on heavy infrastructure. Growing the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots can offer a break for telecom service providers to offload cellular data onto Wi-Fi networks. This will greatly reduce congestion on their existing networks.”

Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and RJio are yet to respond to e-mails seeking comments. – The Hindu Business Line

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