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Indian Telecom industry to set up one million WiFi hotspots by 2019

According to a press statement released by the Ministry of Communications, India will have one million WiFi hotspots by December of next year. This is expected to be a big step towards the digital empowerment of the nation.

The announcement was made by the Communications Minister Mr Manoj Sinha during the India Mobile Congress (IMC). He said that Bharat Wi-Fi (India WiFi), a country-wide common interoperable platform of one million Wi-Fi Hotspots, owned and operated by telecom service providers, internet service providers and virtual network operators will be rolled out across the country.

The IMC is one of the biggest Internet, mobile, and technology events in South and South-East Asia. This year’s IMC was located at Aero City, New Delhi and themed, “New Digital Horizons – Connect. Create. Innovate.”.

Over 300 companies and 20 countries participated in the event. The inauguration ceremony was attended by over 5000 people from 10 partner countries and included policymakers, ambassadors, change agents, and investors.

According to the release, the National Frequency Allocation Plan 2018 (NFAP) will be released and will present a roadmap for the Indian digital communications industry.

The Government earlier announced its move to free up spectrum in 5 GHz frequency band, this has increased the availability of radio-waves for Wi-Fi services by 12 times.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) announced it will delicense 605 MHz of spectrum in 5G band for Wireless Access Services and Radio Local Area Networks. This means anyone can use the airwaves for Wifi or other telecom services in this frequency range for free. The Government said this move is to meet the growing demand for data in the country.

The National Digital Communications Policy 2018 has targeted the creation of 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots by 2020 and 10 million by 2022.

The NFAP also offered over 30 license-exempt bands for Short Range Devices (SRDs), Ultra-Wideband Devices (UWDs) and additional spectrum for M2M (machine-to-machine) services. This will create opportunities for the proliferation of Internet services across the country and will enable the industry to build a domestic manufacturing ecosystem.

The Department of Telecommunications, in a major policy initiative, has decided to deduct payments for resources taken by virtual network operators (VNOs) from telecom service providers, reducing levies payable by VNOs. This move is expected to encourage small and medium businesses in the telecom sector and avoid double taxation at various stages.

The release said the DoT is formulating a plan to test out homegrown technologies on a large-scale for the development and up-scaling of the products and services.

At the event, the Minister said that India is on the cusp of a digital revolution, with disruptions happening in every sector. With growing smartphone and internet penetration and the finalisation of National Digital Communication Policy 2018, these are promising times for the telecom sector.

According to the release, the IMC 2018 will also host a Global CEO’s Conclave- a global technology arena- for experts in the industry to come together and deliberate on the future of technology.

Discussions will revolve around the power of content, networks of the future, open-source technology and emerging technologies.

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