Broadband India Forum President Mr. T.V. Ramachandran praised the recommendations from the Regulator on ‘Proliferation of Broadband  through Public Wifi ‘announced on Thursday-9th of March and called it as a huge step towards expediting the availability of affordable and accessible broadband everywhere and to achieve the vision of  Digital India.

He said and he hoped that the Department of Telecom will provide their early consent to these recommendations and pave the way for boosting broadband penetration in the country currently languishing at a lowly 18%  as compared to that of mobile which is at 93%. Explaining the importance of this regulation, Mr. Ramachandran pointed out that based on Global Average of 1 hotspot for every 150 persons; India should have approx. 8 Million hotspots. However, the total number of hotspots as of 2016 based on TRAI’s own report was only 31, 500. He was confident with the implementation of these recommendations; the number of hotspots would accelerate to help bridge the huge deficit that exists.

Mr. Ramachandran went on to further state  that this would lead to introduction of a number of new small time  players in Wifi provisioning space who will be able to boost the broadband availability to the masses. Besides he also mentioned that due to this, there is likely to be huge explosion of backhaul requirements and TSPs are likely to hugely benefit out of this.

Pointing  out  some of the salient and path breaking recommendations made  by the Regulator, he mentioned a few viz.
a)      Clarification of the mis-understanding that arose in the UL-VNO regulations  regarding the clause of exclusivity by asking the DOT to amend the UL-VNO guidelines to clarify that a UL-VNO can parent to multiple NSOs for offering of Internet services .
b)      Re-iteration of  its earlier position regarding freeing up new spectrum bands for Wifi access in the 5.8Ghz band and to expedite opening up of the  E & V bands for improving backhaul capacity ( E band) and for both backhaul and for high capacity access in case of V band
c)      Suggestions towards reduction in duties to make WiFi access devices cheaper  so as to pave the way for affordable WiFi services in public places, and in turn, boost broadband penetration.
d)      Suggestion for creation of a new category of `public data office aggregators’ (PDOAs)  who shall deliver Public WiFi services. It has also suggested that such aggregators work with small entrepreneurs who will provide the venues for `public data offices’ for such mass WiFi deployment.
under specific registration requirements ( to be formulated by DOT ). This move shall encourage Village Level Entrepreneurship & thus provide large employment opportunities in rural areas
e)      The regulator has also permitted ease of authentication when roaming across several hotspots and also through a process of one-time authentication using eKYC , eCAF, MAC ID or through a secure Mobile app.

Mr. Ramachandran said that BIF shared the vision of TRAI to decentralize the internet service sector and open up the sector for provision of broadband services through a plethora of smaller players through the simple process of ‘ registration ‘.This will result in significant increase in broadband penetration and the uptake of broadband enabled services  and applications throughout the country that will help catapult India into the top league of nations with high density of broadband users and higher average speed and capacity consumed per user.

Broadband India Forum is also organizing India Satcom 2017, April 11th and 12th, Shangri La Hotel, New Delhi. India Satcom 2017 will bring together Satellite Operators, Government Regulators, Equipment Manufacturers, Broadcasters, Enterprise Customers, Defence Agencies and Value-Added Service Providers. The 2 day event will aim to explore the opportunities and challenges of the developing market for broadband communications throughout India.