Analysys Mason: Public WiFi to add $20B to India’s GDP
Public Wi-Fi can play a key role in driving ubiquitous connectivity and digital inclusion in India, as explored in an Analysys Mason report – ‘Accelerating connectivity through public Wi-Fi: Early lessons from the railway Wi-Fi project.’
Despite fast increases in number of people connected (316 million at the end of 2017, compared to 200 million the previous year), mobile broadband penetration in India stood at only 31% at the end of 2017, still significantly behind many of India’s peers. The report, prepared through the lens of Google and Railtel Public Wi-Fi project, support the Government’s ambition under the draft NDCP to reach 5 million access points in 2020 and 10 million in 2022, to provide an all-pervasive coverage and internet connectivity, for 600 million Indians.
David Abecassis, partner at Analysys Mason, said: “In the last few years, India has made significant progress in driving mobile data usage, thanks to improved networks, and low cost data. But to really achieve the connected India vision, India will need to further invest in developing public Wi-Fi as a complement to mobile and fiber broadband.”
According to Abecassis, the Google and RailWire project to deploy high speed Wi-Fi across 400 stations has shown that there was a technical and operational solution to providing high-quality public Wi-Fi to millions of Indians nationwide, on affordable terms.
“The success of this rollout and Reliance Jio’s 80,000 public Wi-Fi access points as of mid-2017 provided valuable insights in further developing public Wi-Fi as a service that can truly achieve the Digital India vision,” he added.
The report further outlines an opportunity to develop a wider connectivity ecosystem with Public Wi-Fi as a key component, which can not only benefit users and wireless ISPs, but also telecom service providers, handset manufacturers and venue owners. ISPs can benefit by monetizing demand for faster mobile broadband and higher data volumes on their networks, as people get used to fast speeds and ubiquitous connectivity.
Analysis Mason found that around 100 million people would be willing to spend an additional USD 2 to 3 billion per year on handsets and cellular mobile broadband services, as a result of experiencing fast broadband on public Wi-Fi. In addition to driving productivity improvements from high speed Wi-Fi for the overall economy, public Wi-Fi can also translate into tangible benefits to GDP, by around USD 20 billion between 2017-19 and at least billion per annum thereafter.
Google’s Internet Access for Emerging Markets – Managed WiFi Network for India Railways
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India’s DoT asks telcos to give road map for building public Wi-Fi system, by Devina Sengupta Economic Times ((c) 2018 Times of India Group)
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked telcos to give a three-year road map on how they will build the public Wi-Fi system, signalling that the government may be inclined to place its bets on licensed operators to start with for larger broadband proliferation in the country.At a meeting held earlier this week, attended by regulatory heads of all telcos and industry bodies like Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Internet Services Providers Association of India (ISPAI), DoT secretary Aruna Sundararajan laid out the government’s public Wi-Fi ambitions and heard about the roadblocks towards implementation of public Wi-Fi hotspots, people familiar with the matter said.“We have been asked to submit roadmaps and were assured that only if we do not meet expectations, then will the DoT ask registered firms to pitch in,” said an executive present at the meeting.
Another executive present at the meeting said the DoT secretary did not touch upon the subject of allowing or disallowing unlicensed, or registered, entities to offer public Wi-Fi, and focussed on what the telcos could do to expand the Wi-Fi network in the country. DoT hopes to rapidly roll-out around 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country by the end of 2018, with at least one in every village in India.Licensed mobile phone operators and internet service providers have been repeatedly calling upon the DoT, and even the PMO, to reject a proposal by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to allow unlicensed, or just registered, entities to establish affordable Wi-Fi networks in public places, arguing such a move would be illegal and would distort a level-playing field.The telcos’ vociferous opposition came after the Telecom Communication, the highest decision-making body in the DoT, accepted the Trai’s recommendations.In fact, the DoT was believed to be considering lighttouch licensing for those that register to offer such services, including clauses that exempt such unlicensed entities from having to share revenue with the government.Those companies though would need to follow rules on security, monitoring and lawful interception among others. In comparison, licensed telcos and internet providers need to share revenue.But the telcos and ISPs were broadly satisfied with the discussions at the meeting, executives said.During the meeting, the DoT secretary assured that the department will look into licensing restrictions that prevent infrastructure sharing between internet service providers (ISPs). According to licensing norms, two ISPs cannot share infrastructure, which will be a hurdle for public Wi-Fi since customers will need to have internet when they move from one area to another, which could come under different ISPs.The meeting also saw the DoT address other grievances that have cropped up, impacting roll-out of public Wi-Fi. According to people present in the meeting, the DoT said it will address the clause around eligibility issues that have cropped up in the recent USOF Wi-Fi tender, in which original equipment makers (OEMs) had to give their consent to those participating in the tender.
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