Thursday, 25 December 2014

Telcos cagey about govt's plans to set up free wi-fi hotpots

The government has tweaked some policy terms to speed up the rollout of Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. However, telecom operators have expressed reservations about the government's intent. They argue that putting up such public networks will require huge infrastructure and financial support. Contrary to the government's plan to cover 25 cities in entirety, telcos feel these spots can only be successful at select popular locations within the city.
According to the tweaked policy, internet service providers with more than Rs 100-crore annual revenue will now be able to apply for the central government's project to set up Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. The department of telecom is in process of inviting expression of interest from the companies.
Earlier this month, the government had proposed a new policy to speed up the rollout. It plans to set up the facilities in 25 major cities by June 2015 initially by empanelling three to four operators. The cities will have Wi-Fi connectivity with a speed of at least 2 megabytes per second.
As telecom industry official, there is no business case for free public Wi-Fi networks unless the government takes cares of a few conditions being set by the telcos.
According to the government proposal, the operator that will get the contract will have to implement, integrate and commission the citywide Wi-Fi network that would be offered to the government or the citizens on pay-per-use basis. The firm will have to take care of the maintenance and technical support for five years. However, the government will facilitate RoW permissions for installation of equipment and antennas. Operators have to pay a monthly rent to municipal authorities for putting up their network infrastructure on their premises. 



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