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Wi-Fi is key to bridging the digital, as well as urban-rural divide, BIF

Broadband India Forum (BIF), hosted a session of The Digital Dialogues on the occasion of World Wi-Fi Day today. An Industry White Paper on Role and Importance of Next Generation Wi-Fi Technologies in Acceleration of Digital Transformation was also released during the session by the Chief Guest PD Vaghela, Chairman, TRAI. Also present on the occasion as Special Guests of Honour were Dorothy Stanley, Chair 802.11 (Wi-Fi), IEEE (USA); JR Wilson, Chairman, Wireless Broadband Alliance; Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur & Former Chairperson, TSDSI; and Rajkumar Upadhyay, Executive Director, C-DOT.

PD Vaghela, Chairman, TRAI, stated on the occasion, “Ubiquitous and affordable Digital Connectivity is the need of the hour today as we move to a permanent environment of Learn, Bank, Work from Anywhere. Almost every aspect of our daily life is now dependent on the reach of affordable digital connectivity. Wi-Fi is the technology that will enable us to cover the rural and remote locations and provide the much needed bridge to plug the digital divide. Future advanced technologies like Wi-Fi 7 which can increase data download speeds up to 10 Gbps and provide latencies of less than 1 millisecond, would truly help complement 5G technology and improve overall Quality of Service by taking care of significant high value data downloads from fixed locations.

The session delved into the immense opportunities from Wi-Fi and how proliferation of the technological advancements in this area is likely to help bridge the need for affordable and ubiquitous broadband and evolving socio-economic requirements of the citizens of India.

TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum, shared: “Ubiquitous public Wi-Fi is essential for achieving our Digital India goals and for attaining our digital aspirations. With the introduction of the historic PM WANI Public Wi-Fi Policy, and the emergence of the next-gen Wi-Fi 6/6E and also Wi-Fi 7 in the near future, Wi-Fi is slated to contribute significantly in delivering ‘Broadband for All’ and towards the National Mission of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. It is therefore imperative that more delicensed spectrum in 6GHz and V band, are made available for Wi-Fi in line with international best practices.”

The White Paper released on this occasion, titled “Role and Importance of Next Generation Wi-Fi Technologies in Acceleration of Digital Transformation”, is authored by Dr. Rajkumar Upadhyay, Chairman, BIF’s New Technologies Committee and Executive Director, C-DOT. It provides an in-depth and insightful perspective on the many significant benefits of Wi-Fi technology for proliferation of broadband in the country, its critical role in bridging the digital, as well as urban-rural divide, and the outlook on how next gen Wi-Fi technologies such as Wi-Fi 6/6E can revolutionise data connectivity, bringing about rapid digital transformation and facilitate expediting our pursuit of a knowledge economy.

Rajkumar Upadhyay, Chairman, BIF’s New Technologies Committee and Executive Director, C-DOT, commented, “Wi-Fi as a complementary technology for broadband access is envisaged as a major driver of growth for the Digital India initiative. The Cabinet approved PM-WANI scheme is a major step in the direction of achieving the goals of NDCP of 10 million hotspots by 2022.  PMI and recently announced PLI scheme for the telecom sector will give boost to indigenous manufacturing of telecom products including Wi-Fi products. This will give impetus to the Digital India initiative of the government, promote innovations in multiple sectors and spur economic growth.”

The Key Observations/Recommendations of the White Paper are as follows:

  1. Constant interaction with stakeholders is necessary to identify implementation roadblocks to fast track broadband deployment and strengthen the internet ecosystem in the country.
  2. Some gaps need to be ironed out for the innovative PM WANI scheme to pick up –
  3. Need to create wider awareness about the novel scheme, its technical design, utility of Public Wi-Fi services and associated benefits.
  4. A regulation prescribing ceiling rate with guaranteed QoS may be considered by TRAI to ensure that ISPs/TSPs do not exercise discriminatory practices in allocating bandwidth and pricing for PDOAs/PDOs
  5. Government should facilitate easy Bank loans or funding from USOF for small entrepreneurs to invest in the PDO/PDOA business
  6. Suitable modifications can be made in the WANI framework to facilitate Roaming.
  7. Spectrum in both 6 GHz and V band have been delicensed in several countries, to increase capacity and accelerate economic growth. Need to explore releasing these bands in India at the earliest to unlock their economic value through use in Wi-Fi services.
  8. To promote indigenous manufacturing via PLI schemes, issues related to easy access to capital, improving associated infrastructure, quick product certification, removing trade barriers, offsetting cost barriers, cross-checking local content in so-called ‘Made in India’ products, etc. are required to be addressed on a regular basis.

CT Bureau

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