India Government Plans Public WiFi Interoperability
Passengers use smartphones at Mumbai Central railway station in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India Government Plans Public WiFi Interoperability

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The government is planning to allow interoperability of public WiFi that will enable users to login for the facility once and stay connected with the wireless internet service across the country without any need for refilling entire details again on their mobile devices.

"Interoperability of public WiFi is under consideration. This will enable a user to stay connected with all public WiFi across the country when they come within its range. A mobile device user have to login once, and other WiFi networks, be it of BSNL, Airtel, Jio, etc, will recognise the device and connect it to the network," an official source told PTI.

The source said the proposal is likely to come up under consideration of inter-ministerial panel Digital Communications Commission, at its meeting scheduled on Tuesday. Under the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, the government has targeted to enable deployment of five million public WiFi hotspots by 2020 and 10 million by 2022.

Under the current rules, a mobile device user is required to fill form and enter the one-time password sent on his mobile number to connect to a public WiFi. Sometimes, users do not get OTP on their mobile device and, hence, fail to connect with the service.

"The focus of the government is to provide digital governance and encourage data innovation. Interoperable WiFi will help mobile users travel across the country with data connectivity. This will also take away load from licence spectrum and help improve in call drops," the source said.

The DCC is also likely to take up a cumulative penalty of Rs 3,050 crore proposed on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on the complaint of Reliance Jio. Amid a financial stress in the sector, the DCC has sought the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to review the penalty amount. However, the regulator is learnt to have not made any change in the penal amount.

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