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TRAI backs public WiFi, says data prices can fall to 2 paisa per MB

TRAI says, entrepreneurs can also pitch in to offer public WiFi services apart from current Internet Service Providers.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on setting up WiFi Hotspots around the country to provide cheaper and faster data to consumers.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

“In general, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should incur substantially lesser costs in setting up WiFi access infrastructure compared to mobile broadband networks like 2G/3G/4G,” TRAI said.

The regulator further added, “It is estimated that cost per MB in Wi-Fi Network could be less than 2 paise per MB. It is worth mentioning that consumers on an average are paying around 23 paise per MB for the data usage in the cellular Network (2G/3G/4G). This shows that the consumer tariff for data may reduce as much as 1/10th in Wi-Fi compared to mobile data.”

As per the regulator, through WiFi Hotspots cheaper data can be offered and small entrepreneurs can also pitch in apart from Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

In 2014, India ranked at 108th position globally in terms of affordability of fixedline broadband services and at 97th for mobile broadband services (postpaid, handset based). “This situation highlights the need for better proliferation of Wi-Fi networks that can offer a more affordable and flexible alternative for scaling up of Internet access,” TRAI argued.

In January, 2016, Mumbai Central Railway station became the first rail station in the country to offer public Wi-Fi services pursuant to collaboration between Indian Railway’s telecom arm, RailTel Corporation and Google. This service is proposed to be extended to 100 railway stations in the coming year and subsequently to 400 stations, making it the largest public Wi-Fi project in India. In addition, public Wi-Fi hotspots have been launched at locations like metro stations, hotels, airports, cafes, markets, educational institutions, parks and other public places at various locations in the country.

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