News: On the proposal of Department of Telecom (DoT) to proliferate broadband through public wi-fi networks cabinet approved the PM-WANI framework. This framework takes forward the goal of National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 (NDCP) of creating a robust digital communications infrastructure.

What is PM-WANI?
• The Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM WANI) launched by the Department of Telecom (DoT) in December 2020, is one key scheme launched to bolster the penetration of public WiFi hotspots to establish a robust digital communication infrastructure
throughout the nation, especially in rural areas.
• It is a framework that enables any entity, such as a shopkeeper, a tea stall owner, or a Kirana store owner, to set up a public Wi-Fi hotspot and provide internet service to customers.

About PM-WANI Ecosystem:

It consists of 4 elements:
• Public Data Offices (PDOs) - Last-mile public Wi-Fi providers, known as PDOs, do not require licenses or registration, and they are not obligated to pay fees to the DoT. This removes bureaucratic hurdles and encourages local shops and small establishments to become Wi-Fi providers.
• Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) - The entities that aggregate last-mile providers, known as PDOAs, only need to register, and no fees are charged for this registration. The process is streamlined, with registration typically completed within seven working days of receiving applications.
• App Providers - The PM-WANI framework encourages the participation of App Providers who offer services for registering and authenticating users. These apps facilitate user access to public Wi-Fi hotspots and enhance the overall user experience.
• Central Registry – It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. It is currently maintained by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT).

• Connectivity - PM-WANI aims to provide ubiquitous digital connectivity across the country. By creating a network of interoperable public Wi-Fi hotspots (PDOs), it offers a last-mile distribution of broadband at affordable prices, making internet access accessible to even the remotest areas.
•  Affordability - The packages of Rs 5-10 for Wi-Fi access make Wi-Fi affordable, especially for lowincome households and rural communities. This makes high-speed internet affordable, bridging the digital divide that has long persisted.
• Open and Scalable Framework – Just as the success of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in the finance space, PM-WANI provides an open and scalable framework for internet distribution.
• Local Entrepreneurship - PM-WANI nurtures the growth of local entrepreneurs, who can set up PDOs in small shops, local establishments, and even households. This empowers these entrepreneurs to augment their monthly earnings while promoting internet usage in their communities.
• Utilization of Existing Infrastructure – It can make better use of existing infrastructure laid out by major companies like RailTel and GAIL, which is currently underutilized.
• Simplified Operations - PM-WANI eliminates the need for licenses or permits to operate public Wi-Fi hotspots. This simplifies the process for entrepreneurs and startups, promoting innovation and competition in the digital connectivity space.

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