Connect More People: With PM WANI
Public Wi-Fi is an affordable option for reaching unserved citizens and stimulating the economy.
The central government’s move to enable public Wi-Fi data service through small retail data bureaus can connect many more people as well. Distance telephony was expanded to include public STD telephone bureaus over three decades ago. Bringing broadband internet to remote locations with minimal investment and allowing subscribers to make small, on-demand payments in order to use it has so far remained a challenge.The PM WANI program approved by the Union’s Cabinet (Wi-Fi Fi Access Network Interface) by the Prime Minister aims to bridge this gap using wireless technologies. It is possible that Internet access will connect a new wave of users not only with commercial and entertainment options, but also with education, telemedicine and farming expansion, and greater accountability to the government by increasing transparency and interactivity. The government is hoping that by cutting th The crude red tape and the elimination of licenses and fees can make it easy for even a tea shop owner to register as a service provider online, opening up new income opportunities. Three years ago when TRAI outlined the plan and launched the first pilot as a public Wi-Fi system for the WANI architecture, it found that a 10% increase in net penetration led to a 1.4% increase in GDP led. However, public Wi-Fi has been neglected as it has been seen as a competitor to the data services it sells.
Rapid internet expansion in rural India will be transformative given its low penetration – 27.57 subscribers per 100 inhabitants in 2019 – and Wi-Fi coupled with broadband fiber optic services is the fastest way to achieve this. Future mobile technologies like 5G may deliver good quality data, but will require heavy investments in new spectrum, connectivity devices and regular device subscription fees. The WANI system offers an elegant way to connect consumers with low income. It opens up the possibility for community organizations, libraries, educational institutions, panchayats and small business owners to develop an entirely new ecosystem and acquire bandwidth from a public data office aggregator What citizens expect is a robust service, protection of data integrity, transparency in the commercial Use of data and security against cyber attacks. The government must also ensure real unbundling of hardware, software, apps and payment gateways in the WANI system, as advocated by TRAI, in order to prevent monopolies. Existing public Wi-Fi options are run to a limited extent by some beneficiaries – forcing consumers to pay through a single gateway app, underscoring the need for reform. When properly done, PM WANI’s Public Data Offices (PDOs) can do what PCOs did for phone calls, and go way beyond “doing business” to truly empower citizens.