Government’s plan for public Wi-Fi lets anyone from the kirana store owner to tea shop stalls sign up to provide the internet

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Government’s plan for public Wi-Fi lets anyone from the kirana store owner to tea shop stalls sign up to provide the internet
Representative imageBCCL
  • The Union Cabinet today revealed its plan for how it plans to provide India’s 1.36 billion population with free public Wi-Fi connectivity called PM-Wani.
  • Any business, even tea stalls and kirana stores can sign up to provide public Wi-Fi service through public data offices (PDO).
  • They do not need to apply for a license, register or pay any fees, according to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The Indian government has revealed its plans to launch public Wi-Fi networks across the country called PM-Wani (Wi-fi Access Network Interface). The three-tier system is aimed at providing last-mile connectivity and bringing all of India’s population of 1.36 billion online.

And, it starts at your local tea shop or kirana store. According to the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, anyone can sign up to be a public data office (PDO). They don’t need to apply for a license, registration or cough up fees.

Businesses can take services from Airtel, Jio or any such internet service provider (ISP) and use their physical location to provide Wi-Fi to anyone who happens to be nearby.

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“Anyone can log on to the internet using the Wi-Fi provided by these PDOs,” he said.

The second layer is the PDO aggregators. Their job is to aggregate the PDOs, their accounting and authorisation, according to Prasad.

And, the final layer — the layer that the public will actually interact with — is the app provider.

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“The application will be available on the App Store or Google Play Store. There will be automatic digital authentication. It will be available on the government’s website as well. We will also spread awareness through newspapers,” explained Prasad.

PM-Wani will empower India’s ‘digital revolution’
India currently has 120 crore mobile phone users, more than half of whom are on smartphones. The government justifies its new PM-Wani platform as the next step of India’s digital revolution.

According to Prasad, the digital ecosystem — which includes direct benefit transfers, the goods and services tax network, unified payments interface, and other aspects — will be strengthened as more people have access to the internet, especially when it’s free.

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The Union Cabinet also approved the provision of submarine optical fibre cable connectivity between Kochi and the Lakshadweep Islands.

The USOF Scheme for providing mobile coverage in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for North Eastern Region also got a green light. The project aims at providing mobile coverage to 2,374 uncovered villages.

Lastly, they approved the setting up 1 crore data centres across the country.

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