Now take WiFi data vouchers from a nearby kirana shop

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Data guzzlers out there will soon be able to buy low-cost, WiFi-powered data packs from their neighborhood kirana shop or even a thelawallah.

WiFi data, data vouchers, kirana shop, digital, India

The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-Dot) has just developed a mass-market public data office (PDO) tech solution priced under Rs 50,000, which can be used by a kirana shop or a handcart operator to deliver low-cost WiFi solutions.

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Armed with a PDO device, a kirana shop or a thelawallah can sell WiFi data vouchers with denominations as low as Rs 10. The service can be provided over license-free ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) band.

C-DoT, which is the telecom research arm of the government, will unveil its PDO solution Friday. The tech solution packs hardware and software elements that include a Wi-Fi access point along with e-KYC, OTP (one-time password) authentication and a voucher management mechanism. The electrically powered device also includes a billing system.

The state-owned telecom research agency will shortly transfer its PDO technology to 20-odd manufacturing partners for commercial production of the devices. C-DoT’s licenced manufacturing partners include Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) and ITI amongst others.

Small retailers or shop owners in semi-urban or rural areas, according to C-DoT can use free-to-use frequency available in 2.4 GHz and 5.8 Ghz band which enables radio spectrum access without the need of any regulations or restriction with no interference challenges.

Last month, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to tweak internet service provider (ISP) permit rules, free up new spectrum bands and expedite steps to make WiFi access devices cheaper to pave the way for affordable WiFi services in public places, and in turn, boost broadband penetration.

It had recommended an aggregator-model, suggesting that a new category of `public data office aggregators’ (PDOAs) deliver public WiFi services without a licence. It had also suggested that such aggregators work with small entrepreneurs who would provide the venues or `public data offices’ for such mass WiFi deployment.

The joint involvement of aggregators and small entrepreneurs, the regulator had said, would also boost employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship in rural areas. It has also suggested that aggregators be allowed to partner with third-party application/service providers for managing authentication and payment processes for such WiFi services.

By Baishakhi Dutta

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