TRAI says public Wi-Fi hotspots could slash data costs by 90%

TRAI has issued a brand new consultation paper on the topic of public Wi-Fi networks, asserting that these hotspots could bring down mobile data costs by up to 90% while still offering faster speeds. Interested parties have until August 10 to submit their views on the subject.

The Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks consultation paper asks over 13 questions related to the topic. According to TRAI, public Wi-Fi hotspots are not just limited to spots created by telecom operators. The term also includes any network developed by a small entrepreneur or entity for larger use.

Smartphone User

Public Wi-Fi spots are still an uncommon sight in India, with only a 12% growth in them from 2013 to 2016. This seems especially slow when compared against the global rate of 568%. Moreover, TRAI has pointed out that while the country houses one-sixth of the world’s population, its share of communal Wi-Fi networks is less than one-thousandth.

TRAI is now seeking the public’s opinion on whether there are any regulatory issues, licensing restrictions, or other pressing factors which are hampering the growth of these Wi-Fi platforms. It’s also asking what specific policy measures should be undertaken to promote the deployment of such networks in cities and rural areas.

Also See: Delhi to get 1000 free Wi-Fi hotspots by December

TRAI is further questioning whether there is a need to adopt a hub-based model where a third-party Authentication, Authorization and Accounting hub handles the payment, authentication and interconnection of public Wi-Fi spots. As per the authority’s calculations, consumer tariff for data could drop down to one-tenth via Wi-Fi compared to cellular data.

Going by TRAI’s estimates, the cost per MB in a public Wi-Fi network may be less than 2 paise per MB, a steep drop from the current average of approximately 23 paise per MB via 2G, 3G and 4G.