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Public Wi-Fi Plan ‘PM Wani’

Public Wi-Fi Plan ‘PM Wani’

PM WANI, a program aimed at spreading Wi-Fi access nationwide, stems from a 2017 TRAI recommendation. It aims to boost high-speed internet adoption by making Wi-Fi networks more accessible across India.

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  • More public Wi-Fi networks popping up everywhere will make internet access cheaper and more widespread across the nation.
  • Having better Wi-Fi access will make life easier, especially as we rely more on digital tools and services in today’s economy.
  • The loosened regulations on operating Wi-Fi networks aim to make it simpler for businesses to thrive, potentially creating more jobs and giving people more money to spend.
  • Additionally, the decentralized setup of the WANI system aims to tackle the issue of getting internet to remote areas, letting Wi-Fi hotspots grow naturally where they’re needed most.


  • Public Data Office (PDO): This entity is responsible for setting up, managing, and operating Wi-Fi Access Points that comply with the WANI (Wireless Access Network Interface) standards. Its primary task is to provide broadband services to subscribers.
  • Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA): The PDOA acts as a central hub for PDOs. Its role involves managing authorization and accounting processes related to the services provided by PDOs.
  • App Provider: This is an organization or individual that creates an application designed to facilitate user registration and help users locate nearby Wi-Fi hotspots that comply with the WANI standards. The app will enable users to access internet services through these hotspots.
  • Central Registry: The Central Registry serves as a database maintained by C-DoT (Centre for Development of Telematics). It stores information about App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. This registry plays a crucial role in managing and coordinating the activities of all entities involved in the WANI ecosystem.

Key features

  • We’re enabling the establishment of public WiFi hotspots nationwide through public data offices, known as PDOs.
  • No licensing or fees will be necessary for PDOs to operate these hotspots.
  • This initiative will engage various entities, such as PDOs, Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs), app providers, and a central registry.


  • Personal Data Officers (PDOs) will act as intermediaries between service providers and users, streamlining interactions.
  • A PDO Aggregator (PDOA) will serve as a hub for multiple PDOs, overseeing tasks like authorization and accounting for Wi-Fi connections.
  • Individuals seeking to access public Wi-Fi can conveniently do so through a dedicated app, paying according to their usage.
  • The app developer will create a user-friendly platform for registering users and locating Wani-compliant Wi-Fi hotspots, which the app will display.
  • A central registry, managed by the Centre for Development of Telematics, will maintain records of app providers, PDOAs, and PDOs for administrative purposes.


  • Public Wi-Fi networks will ‘democratize’ content distribution and broadband access to millions at affordable rates.
  • This will be the UPI (unified payments interface) of connectivity services.

Implementation challenges

  • We need to question whether such projects are economically viable in the Indian context. With cheap data widely available, there might be limited demand for public data, especially in urban areas.
  • Various entities, ranging from tech giants like Google and Facebook to smaller players like WiFi Dabba, have attempted similar projects before, but they haven’t seen much success. The primary challenge stems from the widespread availability of cheap 4G data.
  • Google even noted that “several governments and local entities have kicked off their own initiatives to provide easier, cost-effective access to the Internet for everyone”.
  • This further underlines the benefit of governmental initiatives in the sector. Furthermore, the ‘aggregator’ model that has been adopted has been heavily critiqued for its exploitation of workers.
  • This might end up hindering the increase of incomes, which the scheme has set as a goal.
  • Public sector projects would be able to ameliorate such concerns as well.


Increased internet users: PM WANI will rapidly increase the number of internet users not just for entertainment purposes but also for education, healthcare, and agriculture development. This new surge of online users will bring higher accountability to the Indian Government by improving interactivity and transparency.

Low-Cost Option: Upcoming mobile technologies like 5G might deliver excellent quality data, but they include tremendous investment in the recent spectrum, standard subscriber costs, and connectivity tools.

Cutting through the levels of bureaucracy: With the help of the PM WANI scheme, the Indian Government is planning to move beyond the level of bureaucracy and eliminate charges and expenses, it can make it effortless even for a grocery shop owner to register on an online platform as a service provider, opening up unexplored earnings possibilities.

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