Public wifi hotspots have the potential to generate 2-3 crore jobs this year: Telecom Secretary

Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman calls upon wifi equipment makers to lower the cost of their products for the expansion of Prime Minister's Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) scheme, which aims to set up wifi hotspots across India.
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Setting up of one crore public wifi hotspots across India this year as envisaged under the present telecom policy has the potential to create two to three crore job opportunities, a senior government official said on Saturday.

Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman, while speaking at the Broadband India Forum (BIF) event, called upon wifi equipment makers to lower the cost of their products for the expansion of Prime Minister's Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) scheme, which aims to set up wifi hotspots across the country.

"Given by conservative estimate of each hotspot enabling two to three direct and indirect employment opportunities, the creation of 10 million hotspots as per the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) target by 2022 would potentially generate 20-30 million job opportunity in the small and medium-scale sectors," Rajaraman said.

Public wifi hotspots have immense potential to act as catalysts for the rural economy and as a means of rural livelihood besides propelling socio-economic growth by providing employment opportunities for millions of small local and village entrepreneurs.

"Sprawling manufacturing units will be needed to produce millions of access points for PM-WANI, which is the core of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission and would lead to therefore more job creation," Rajaraman said.

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Innovative connectivity solutions

According to the PM-WANI portal, over 56,000 wifi hotspots have been deployed across the country till date. Rajaraman said he wants more entrepreneurs to join PM-WANI programme facilitated by C-DoT.

"We also want local communities to join PM-WANI scheme wholeheartedly. We will be happy to facilitate existing entrepreneurs in local neighbourhoods, especially local cable operators, internet service providers, tourism operators etc, to come forward and help proliferate WANI access points across the country," he said.

BIF announced the launch of BIF Connectivity Accelerator Programme in partnership with Meta (formerly Facebook) to enable entrepreneurs and startups to build innovative connectivity solutions and support the public wifi ecosystem.

"This (BIF Connectivity Accelerator) virtual programme will give startups the opportunity to partner with BIF to help develop relevant use cases and scale their businesses. We appeal to all stakeholders to come together and join hands with us to expeditiously and effectively implement this national mission," BIF President TV Ramachandran said.

Edited by Teja Lele