PM-WANI’s sachet-sized Internet packs have the potential to revolutionize digital connectivity in India.
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The Digital India Program and Connectivity Revolution
The Digital India program aims to achieve digital connectivity, on-demand software and services, and digital empowerment of citizens. With the boom in mobile telephony, widespread 4G coverage, reduced data tariffs, and increased smartphone penetration, the connectivity landscape has transformed significantly over the past seven years.
The Growing Data Demand
As video consumption surges, India’s per capita data consumption stands at a staggering 19.5 GB per month, creating a massive demand for data. However, the affordability of data remains a challenge, especially for rural households and underprivileged communities.
PM-WANI: A Solution for Last Mile Connectivity
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) proposed the creation of inter-operable public Wi-Fi hotspots known as Public Data Offices (PDOs) to address this issue. These PDOs would provide broadband in sachet-sized packages, making Internet access more affordable.
A Transformational Approval
The proposal was piloted and later approved as PM-WANI by the Union Cabinet in December 2020. It allows operators to start operations without needing any licenses or permits, creating a truly open and scalable framework.
Empowering Communities with Affordable Internet
Despite initial opposition, more than 1.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed, enabling over a million people to access unlimited Internet for just Rs 5 to 10 per day. This sachet Internet has become popular among students and economically challenged sections of society.
Fostering Nano Entrepreneurs
PM-WANI also nurtures the growth of local nano entrepreneurs (PDOs) who establish Wi-Fi hotspots and offer Internet access to other users, augmenting their earnings while promoting Internet usage through affordable sachet plans.
A Compelling Business Opportunity
The framework allows Internet distribution at the last mile without additional licensing fees, providing a robust foundation for delivering affordable Internet access. It presents a golden opportunity to bridge the digital divide and empower underserved communities.
A Beacon of Hope for Underserved Areas
With existing infrastructure underutilized, PM-WANI represents a cost-effective and reliable solution for underserved areas, benefiting ISPs and Telcos by increasing bandwidth sales through retailers.
Promoting PM-WANI for Digital Inclusion
To ensure PM-WANI’s success, all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, and startups, need to promote this uniquely Indian Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI). With its approach to interoperability, openness, and scalability, PM-WANI has the potential to accelerate like UPI or other DPIs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the Digital India program’s main focus?
The Digital India program focuses on digital connectivity, on-demand software and services, and digital empowerment of citizens.
- What are the factors that have transformed India’s connectivity landscape?
Factors such as the boom in mobile telephony, 4G coverage, reduced data tariffs, and increased smartphone penetration have transformed India’s connectivity landscape.
- What is PM-WANI’s proposed solution for affordable Internet access?
PM-WANI proposes the creation of inter-operable public Wi-Fi hotspots (PDOs) to provide broadband in sachet-sized packages, making Internet access more affordable.
- How has PM-WANI been received so far?
PM-WANI has seen a positive response, with over 1.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots installed, benefiting over a million users who can access unlimited Internet for a minimal cost.
- How does PM-WANI empower local nano entrepreneurs?
PM-WANI allows local nano entrepreneurs (PDOs) to establish Wi-Fi hotspots and offer Internet access, enabling them to augment their earnings while promoting Internet usage through affordable plans.
- Why is PM-WANI a compelling business opportunity for aggregators?
PM-WANI eliminates the need for additional licensing fees, allowing aggregators (PDOAs) to unbundle Internet distribution at the last mile, presenting a robust foundation for affordable Internet access.
- How can PM-WANI bridge the digital divide and benefit underserved areas?
PM-WANI’s cost-effective and reliable solution offers hope for underserved areas, benefiting ISPs and Telcos by increasing bandwidth sales through retailers.