Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has once again laid emphasis on the creation of WiFi-based Internet eco-system in India. They not only want nation-wide data tariffs to come down to 2 paisa per Mb, but also seeking help from entrepreneurs, service providers, communities and the public at large to help the cause.
But, the figure of 2 paisa per Mb data tariff seems outdated now, as Jio along with Airtel and other telecom operators have already introduced plans which makes per MB tariff less than 2 paise per MB.
Can the cost of data tariff go even lower with Wifi?
TRAI: WiFi-based Internet Access Is The Need of The Hour
Via their internal research and surveys, TRAI has found out one crucial fact: If India wants mass usage of Internet, across every village and city, then WiFi based Internet eco-system is the only feasible solution.
And for implementing this, they want support from entrepreneurs and service providers.
An official from TRAI said, “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,”
TRAI has also understood that cross-platform access of Internet is very important, as the end-user should be able to access the Internet via different sources, and interoperability of Internet is the solution.
In other words, TRAI wants that the Internet user should be able to access the Internet via telecom provider, and WiFi hotspots without wasting time in authentications.
The official said, “The idea is to ensure that a consumer can easily move from his mobile network to low-cost public Wi-Fi hotspots without having to go through multiple authentication issues. New intermediaries to provide Wi-Fi will help have higher touch-points for the Internet that can run into millions,”
As per TRAI, the cost of Internet access should come down to 2 paise per MB, and this can only happen via WiFi-based Internet access.
But.. Jio & Airtel Are Already Providing 1 paisa / MB Tariff
We had reported TRAI’s inclination towards 2 paise per MB data tariff, via WiFi-based Internet access, in the month of January this year. At that time, TRAI had also floated a consultation paper for the same, titled ‘Consultation Paper on Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks’.
However, things have changed after that.
With Jio Prime offering 4G data at Rs 303 per month for 30 GB, the per MB costs has come down to 1 paisa per MB.
Following Jio, Airtel too has offered 14 GB 4G data for Rs 145, which is same as 1 paise per MB tariff.
Hence, TRAI’s argument that current telecom players are charging 20 paisa per MB falls flat here. And thus, their logic that WiFi-based Internet will allow cheaper data, compared to 3G or 4G is also illogical.
Having said that, WiFi-based Internet eco-system should be encouraged, and most of the developed countries have established such WiFi networks, which makes Internet access smooth and affordable for all. Globally, there has been an increase of 568% in WiFi hotspots, but in India, this increase has been only 2%.
Can introduction of WiFi-based internet solve digital problems of India? Or telecom providers in India are doing a fine job of expanding Internet access, without WiFi?
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