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TRAI proposes internet at 2 paise per MB by easing access to Wi-Fi

New Delhi: Telecom regulator TRAI plans to unshackle Wi-Fi deployment across the country by allowing individuals, communities, small-time entrepreneurs and content and application providers to offer affordable and high-speed internet to the public.

A booster to Wi-Fi deployment, which is yet to spread in a large way in India, has the potential to provide internet access at affordable costs, while supplementing existing telecom networks, feels Trai, which will soon make recommendations on the issue. “We see mass-scale Wi-Fi deployment as a means to democratise the penetration of affordable good-speed internet across urban cities and rural areas,” said officials at Trai.

The plan is to provide internet for 2 paise per MB against the existing rates of around 10 paise in the mobile telecom market. The regulator also feels that the Wi-Fi network can help take the load off from choked telecom operators, who are battling poor call quality and slow broadband speeds.

“The recommendations will be sent to the telecom ministry very soon for necessary changes in the licensing and other rules,” one source said..

Trai feels that inter-operability of internet access — where it can move seamlessly from mobile telecom networks to various Wi-Fi set-ups — will be a key to success of the plan.

“The idea is to ensure that a consumer can easily move from his mobile network to low-cost public Wi-Fi hotpots without having to go through multiple authentication issues. New intermediaries to provide Wi-Fi will help have higher touch-points for internet that can run into millions,” a source said.

Trai had floated a consultation paper on spreading reach of Wi-Fi in July last year, and had followed it up with another consultation paper that spoke about relevance of inter-operable systems in boosting proliferation of internet.

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