Data guzzlers out there can soon buy low-cost Wi-Fi-powered data packs from neighbourhood Kirana shop or even a humble ‘thelawallah’, or street vendor.
Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) has developed a mass market ‘public data office’ (PDO) tech solution priced under Rs 50,000 to deliver low-cost Wi-Fi solutions.
Armed with a PDO device, a kirana shop or a thelawallah can sell Wi-Fi data vouchers at denominations as low as Rs 10.
The service will be provided over a licence-free ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) band. C-DoT, a government-owned telecom research and development centre, will unveil its PDO solution on Friday.
The tech solution packs hardware and software elements that include a Wi-Fi access point along with e-KYC (know your customer), OTP (one-time password) authentication and a voucher management mechanism. The electrically powered device also includes a billing system.
“Today, Digital India is not happening in every nook and corner of India. But the concept of PDO will enable even a thelawallah to sell low cost Wi-Fi-based broadband services anywhere. Even a nearby kirana shop can resell data services for as low as Rs 10 or even less,” C-DoT’s executive director Vipin Tyagi told ET.
C-DoT will shortly transfer its PDO technology to 20-odd manufacturing partners, including Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) and ITI Ltd, for commercial production of the devices. Small retailers or shop owners in semi-urban or rural areas, according to C-DoT, can use free-to-use frequency available in 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, which enable radio spectrum access without the need of any regulations or restriction with no interference challenges.
Last month, telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had asked the department of telecom (DoT) to tweak internet service provider (ISP) permit rules, free up new spectrum bands, and expedite steps to make Wi-Fi access devices cheaper to pave the way for affordable Wi-Fi services in public places, and in turn, boost broadband penetration.
It had recommended an aggregator model, suggesting that a new category of `public data office aggregators’ (PDOAs) deliver public Wi-Fi services without a licence. It had also suggested that such aggregators work with small entrepreneurs who would provide the venues or `public data offices’ for such mass Wi-Fi deployment.
The involvement of aggregators and small entrepreneurs, the regulator had said, would also boost employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship in rural areas. It also suggested that aggregators be allowed to partner with third-party application/service providers for managing authentication and payment processes for such Wi-Fi services.