Digital India Initiatives

Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PM-WANI

Mains level: Internet connectivity, Digital divide

In a bid to improve wireless connectivity, the Union Cabinet approved setting up of the public WiFi was part of the Prime Minister WiFi Access Network Interface (PM- WANI).

Do you know?

According to TRAI, in most major economies, for 50%-70% of their total usage time, mobile users use WiFi technology to communicate. However, in India, this figure is less than 10%.


  • The WiFi will be provided through public data offices (PDOs) for which there will be no licence, registration or any other fees.
  • The PDO, to be set up along the lines of public calling office, can be a mom-and-pop store in the area or the common services centre present in various small towns, gram panchayats, and villages in the country.
  • The PDOs can either provide the internet on other own or lease it from other telecom and internet service providers.

The centre-stage: Public Data Offices (PDO)

  • The idea of a PDO was first floated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2017.
  • Like a PCO, the PDO allows users to connect to a public WiFi system for a limited session depending on the internet pack chosen by the user.
  • These internet packages can either by charged on per minute or per hour basis by the PDOs.

Licensing of PDOs

  • There will be no licence for PDOs. A simple registration system will be put in place for PDO aggregators as well as app providers, which will be approved within seven days of the application being submitted.
  • In addition to the PDOs, there will also be PDO aggregators, which will look after the authorisation and accounting of PDOs.

A note for users

  • A third layer will of app providers, available for download on the Play Store as well as the Apple Store, will enable users to register for using the public WiFi at a particular place.
  • Users, however, will not be required to download different apps, as a single app will provide seamless connectivity to any PDO across the country.

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