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Cabinet clears setting up public Wi-Fi networks without any fee

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 09, 2020

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4G projects in Arunachal, connectivity to Lakshadweep also approved

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a public Wi-Fi access network called PM-WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) to enable easily accessible public Wi-Fi hotspots spread across the country.

The PM-WANI ecosystem will be operated by different players, including Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs), to provide public Wi-Fi services through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across the country, to accelerate proliferation of broadband Internet services through the Public Wi-Fi network. There would be no licence fee for providing broadband internet through these public Wi-Fi networks, the government said.

While no registration is required for PDOs, PDOAs and app providers should register with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) without paying any registration fee. Registration would be granted within seven days of the application, Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a briefing post the Cabinet meeting.

Proliferation of broadband services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon, he said, adding that the proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment, but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs and boost the country’s GDP.

Telecom development schemes for North-East

The Cabinet also approved provision of a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) scheme for mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam -- KarbiAnglong and Dima Hasao -- under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) for the North Eastern Region (NER).

The project envisages providing mobile coverage to 2,374 uncovered villages (1,683 in Arunachal Pradesh and 691 in two districts of Assam) at an estimated implementation cost of around Rs 2,029 crore, including operational expenses for five years.

The project would be funded by USOF and is targeted to be completed by December 2022. The work related to provision of 4G mobile services in identified uncovered villages will be awarded through the open competitive bidding process in line with extant USOF procedures, the government said.

Further, the Cabinet has also approved the provision of submarine optical fibre cable connectivity between the mainland (Kochi) and the Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).

The project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine optical fibre cable (OFC) between Kochi and the 11 islands of Lakshadweep, including Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy and Bangaram, at an estimated implementation cost of around Rs 1,072 crore, including operational expenses for five years. This project will also be funded by USOF.

Published on December 09, 2020

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