Wi-Fi: The Next Giant Leap For India
Voice and Data|March 2021
Proliferation of Wi-Fi hotspots will not only help realise the Digital Bharat dream but also boost rural economy and drive the AatmaNirbhar Bharat mission
TV Ramachandran

The data revolution in India has only just begun. The voracious appetite displayed by the Indian netizens, to the tune of almost 12 GB per subscriber per month, seems to keep rising northwards. While affordable mobile broadband tariffs have been the progenitor for this remarkable uptake and consumption across both the urban and rural markets, the growing demand for quality and reliability in performance demands focus on the critical aspect of broadband for the Indian consumer – quality of experience (QoE), simply defined as internet speed.

Given this rising demand and uptake of high-quality data content, the price sensitivity of the Indian market, and the growing work-from-home and -anywhere culture, Wi-Fi emerges as the most practical solution for catering to the needs of the fast-transforming Digital India. As per an industry study and analysis of QoE requirements for distinct use cases, a minimum threshold speed of 14Mbps (upload and download) is desirable for ensuring reliable video-streaming and -conferencing. This constitutes a significant proportion of the Indian internet traffic today – to the tune of 60-70% with the proportion being higher in the rural areas.

Industry estimates also reveal that most of the data usage and high-capacity downloads (approximately 80%) happen while the consumer is static/indoors, in areas with good Wi-Fi coverage. Moreover, since our mobile broadband speeds are barely 30% of the global speed, it is high time that the same is complemented with high quality and affordable Wi-Fi services, for better performance, greater outreach and critical digital inclusion.

The government’s introduction of the Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) scheme adequately establishes that Wi-Fi is the practical way to accelerate broadband penetration in the country, and help attain the national goals of Digital India and Broadband for All. The initiative envisions achievement of the NDCP target of 10 million public Wi-Fi hotspots across the nation by 2022.

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