India's Trai recommends allowing public Wi-Fi

telecomasia.net

Indian telecoms regulator Trai has asked the Department of Telecom to free up new spectrum bands and amend ISP permit rules to expedite the launch of affordable public Wi-Fi services.

Trai has also recommended that the government establish a new category of 'public data office' aggregators that would be entitled to offer public Wi-Fi services without a license, the Economic Times reported.

Under the proposed model, aggregators would work with small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide these public data offices for mass Wi-Fi deployment.

Trai has argued that this model would improve employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship in rural areas.

But the report notes that the Cellular Opeators' Association of India (COAI), the industry body representing India's biggest mobile operators has objected to the proposal to allow aggregators to offer public Wi-Fi without valid licenses, arguing that it would create an uneven playing field.

COAI said it supports the use of Wi-Fi for traffic offload for licensed operators, but insisted that any provision of public Wi-Fi needs to come under the existing licensing regime.

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