Covering India with WiFi
India delicenses 5 GHz band to kickstart public WiFi hotspots

New Delhi, October 23 2018:   India  has delicensed some 605 MHz within   the 5 GHz band for use in Public Wifi, increasing the current capacity of 540 Mhz almost 12 fold.  This will help in removing one of the major barriers  to the  creation of  public hotspots – the lack of availability of sufficient delicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. It also increases the capacity for indoor usage from 300 MHz to 605 MHz.
The  Ministry of Communications  (Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing)   has by  a Gazette Extraordinary notification dated  October 18 2018    and  called "Use of Wireless Access System including Radio Local Area Network in 5 GHz band (Exemption from Licensing Requirement) Rules, 2018." stated  that  "No licence shall be required under indoor and outdoor environment to establish, maintain, work, possess or deal in any wireless equipment for the purpose of low power wireless access systems, including radio local area networks operating in the frequency band 5 150-5 250 MHz; 5 250-5 350 MHz; 5 470-5 725 MHz; and 5 725-5 875 MHz and complying with ( specified) technical parameters"
The Broadband India Forum (BIF), an independent policy forum & think tank that works for rapid development of policies to promote affordable and high speed broadband throughout the country,  welcomed the announcement.
Said T.V. Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum: “This is a giant step forward in liberalization and one that will play a pivotal role in expediting the availability of affordable and accessible broadband everywhere and to achieve the dream and vision of Digital India. This single measure would pave the way for boosting broadband penetration in the country, which is currently below global benchmarks”.
xplaining the importance of this notification, Mr. Ramachandran pointed out that based on the global benchmark average of 1 Public Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 persons, India should have approx. 8 Million hotspots. However, the total number of hotspots in India as per TRAI report is only 31,500. The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 has targeted creation of 5 Mn Wi-Fi hotspots by 2020 and 10 Mn by 2022.
The consumer will be primary beneficiary of this remarkable step and it appears that the interminable wait for broadband to reach the nooks and corners of the nation, is getting to be over.
Huge consumer benefit will flow as consumers will be able to easily access information and services which helps to improve their businesses/work as well as the quality of their living. It will also create host of benefits for other stakeholders.
The increase in the number of broadband users, in turn, will increase the amount of data downloads, which will amount to massive benefits for the telcos and carriers as the incremental data traffic will have to be carried only by them, thereby helping boost their revenues. This would incentivize introduction of a number of start-ups and entrepreneurial efforts, especially in rural & semi-urban areas in Wi-Fi provisioning space and boost the broadband availability to the masses. The move will especially encourage Village Level Entrepreneurship and the entry of small/mid players in Public Wi-fi.