‘Wi-Fi to com­ple­ment 3G, 4G in smart city broad­band’

Voice&Data - - CONTENT -

Voice&Data: WBA started off its jour­ney in 2003 and has 100 mem­bers to­day glob­ally, but what’s the rea­son that from In­dia only three op­er­a­tors have evinced in­ter­est and have joined the group so far? Shrikant Shen­wai: For the last few years, there was no fo­cus on wi-fi but again now we can see there’s a change be­cause the cities seem in­ter­ested in wi-fi and the op­er­a­tors are also re­al­iz­ing that 3G bytes will not be suf­fi­cient or 4G will also not be suf­fi­cient.

The con­sumers are any­way us­ing wi-fi and they might also em­brace wi-fi and in fact com­bin­ing wi-fi with 3G and 4G tech­nol­ogy is bet­ter and that re­al­iza­tion nowa­days is be­com­ing stronger.

Not in In­dia, but we can see this mind­set change glob­ally, ear­lier lots of op­er­a­tors in cer­tain mar­kets who were not sure how it will work for them, spe­cially the mo­bile op­er­a­tors used to think it will dam­age their rev­enues in some form or shape.

But I think now, there is suf­fi­cient learn­ing in the mar­ket that you can have enough us­age or enough net­work, what­ever net­work you put, con­sumers will end up us­ing it.

What’s up was not there some­time ago but to­day there is too much of traf­fic on what’s up and some­one needs to sup­port the net­work. So, I think peo­ple are re­al­iz­ing that the band­width and ca­pac­ity are al­ways a chal­lenge and then it would not be about how can we use this tech­nol­ogy or this net­work, it would be all about what­ever tech­nol­ogy is avail­able we have to use it.

So in fact, in­ter­est­ingly, sta­tis­tics say that in In­dia per user traf­fic on an av­er­age will rise to 4.5 gi­ga­byte by 2020 from one gi­ga­byte cur­rently.

In to­tal­ity, the crux of the mat­ter is how to make un­li­censed spec­trum cost ef­fec­tive.

Voice&Data: Tell us some­thing about WBA, how does it ac­tu­ally work with op­er­a­tors glob­ally?

Shrikant Shen­wai: Wi-fi is a very im­por­tant cat­a­lyst for growth. It has a greater role to play and there’s an area to look at how do you make it eas­ier for cus­tomers to use the ser­vice and we have fo­cussed on wi-fi and have tried making wi-fi easy to use.

The Tata group was one of the ini­tial mem­bers to dis­cuss wi-fi with us and they worked with WBA as they fo­cussed on wi-fi.

Be­sides, not only op­er­a­tors but ven­dors like Eric­s­son, Cisco even Google, Mi­crosoft be­came the mem­bers of WBA as it is an in­dus­try body – we do two types of work – one of them is stan­dard­iza­tion, so if you have to use wi-fi on dif­fer­ent op­er­a­tors’ net­work, how do you make sure that the con­nec­tiv­ity is sim­ple and se­cure and easy to use and at the same time take care of the charg­ing model. That re­quires some­one to fa­cil­i­tate that kind of work.

Our mem­bers do a lot of stan­dard­iza­tion, tech­ni­cal guidance, best prac­tices, and tri­als to make sure tech­nol­ogy can be sup­ported in a con­sis­tent way for users.

As an in­dus­try body we help stake­hold­ers to come to­gether and for that we have been do­ing what we call as “wi-fi global con­gresses”. There are two con­gresses in a year, which are held in two dif­fer­ent parts of the world. One in US and one in Europe and then the pur­pose is to bring the peo­ple to­gether to dis­cuss trends, to dis­cuss what busi­ness model works and so there’s a lot of learn­ing.

In­dia, when we started, some en­gage­ments were there but th­ese were not ro­bust but all of a sud­den in one year, wi-fi has again be­come talk-of the town. So, that re­al­iza­tion is be­com­ing stronger now.

Not just In­dia, glob­ally coun­tries are look­ing out for pub­lic wi-fi for their smart city or con­nec­tiv­ity vi­sion. And again for all th­ese one needs to fa­cil­i­tate some of the best prac­tices, es­pe­cially in the cities there are is­sues around pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship. Cities don’t have all the ex­per­tise or re­source to do it they have to work with pri­vate com­pa­nies and again WBA has all such com­pa­nies any­way. Re­cently, we have launched con­nected city ad­vi­sory board, it’s ba­si­cally a spe­cial group within WBA where lead­ers from cities in­clud­ing CTOs and ex­ec­u­tives can come to­gether with WBA ex­perts and dis­cuss things.

Voice&Data: In its 12 years of jour­ney, what ac­cord­ing to you are the key achieve­ments of WBA?

Shrikant Shen­wai: When it comes to the use of wi-fi, we switch on a phone and it con­nects with the net­work whether it is do­mes­tic or in­ter­na­tional, what hap­pens be­hind the scene you don’t want to know be­cause it is some­how trans­par­ent it just hap­pens, that’s be­cause some­one has done that stan­dard­iza­tion.

In wi-fi space that kind of star­dard­iza­tion is miss­ing so what WBA has been do­ing is putting stan­dards in place for in­dus­try. So, we have done sev­eral pro­grams, one of them is wi-fi roam­ing, so there is a stan­dard call in wire­less roam­ing, in­ter­me­di­ately ex­change or risk in short so WBA came out with such stan­dards, and op­er­a­tors around the world are us­ing it and they do roam­ing with each other with wi-fi.

We have rec­og­nized that wi-fi is not nec­es­sar­ily very easy to use and that’s why it’s not avail­able every­where so again you have to dis­cover the net­work of con­nec­tiv­ity, so we stan­dard­ize this whole process some­how and be­sides, there are new wi-fi fea­tures that sup­port fea­tures such as dis­cov­er­ing con­nec­tiv­ity. We came out with a pro­gram called next gen­er­a­tion hot-spot pro­gram and this is a pro­gram WBA has been run­ning for the last three-four years.

We also work with other in­dus­try bod­ies. GSMA and wi-fi al­liance, to­gether we get the ven­dors who re­quire cer­tain spec­i­fi­ca­tion for equip­ment and so th­ese ven­dors are now go­ing for such equip­ment where stan­dards are de­vel­oped by us and im­ple­mented. In fact, not just equip­ment but stan­dard­iza­tion is re­quired for de­vices as well.

The de­vice has to fig­ure out how to con­nect where to con­nect so com­pa­nies like Ap­ple, Sam­sung, LG have also sup­ported this tech­nol­ogy. We help them understand how tech­nol­ogy works why th­ese are needed and how they should im­ple­ment it.

Through our ex­pe­ri­ence glob­ally, we plan to bring wi-fi tech­nol­ogy to In­dia so that peo­ple can use in gen­eral. In ad­di­tion, In­dia will be able to leapfrog in this tech­nol­ogy as there’s not too much legacy wi-fi so it’s a good start­ing point.

Voice&Data: How are you plan­ning to serve the In­dia mar­ket?

Shrikant Shen­wai: A lot of ma­jor tel­cos who are not a mem­ber of WBA are in dis­cus­sions with us and in spe­cial vi­sion fo­rum to be held in Delhi we will bring ev­ery­one un­der one roof.

Re­gional op­er­a­tors are also keen to work with WBA.

We have some dis­cus­sions with the Delhi gov­ern­ment as well as they were try­ing to understand how city wi-fi works, what busi­ness mod­els are there.

There are al­most 50 cities in In­dia with over a mil­lion in pop­u­la­tion. Af­ter China, we are the only coun­try to have such a high user base. We have to fig­ure out how con­nec­tiv­ity works for them, for that we have set up an ad­vi­sory board to look at how the cities can sort out their chal­lenges.

In­dia is al­most start­ing from a green­field phase so that’s a plus point as you don’t have much legacy is­sues you don’t have to think how do I mi­grate my hotspots, you can straight away go to the next gen­er­a­tion hotspot. So, I think In­dia has not only the po­ten­tial to learn but also cre­ate some new bench­mark in lead­er­ship in how wi-fi be­comes very im­por­tant in de­liv­er­ing in this Dig­i­tal In­dia vi­sion.

—Shrikant Shen­wai CEO, Wire­less Broad­band Al­liance

—Shrikant Shen­wai CEO, Wire­less Broad­band Al­liance

Wire­less Broad­band Al­liance (WBA), which is a global strate­gic al­liance with over 100 mem­bers, views pub­lic wi-fi as a strate­gic com­ple­ment to mo­bile and fixed broad­band net­work. With the gov­ern­ment rolling out ‘Smart City’ and ‘Dig­i­tal In­dia’ pro­grams, WBA is look­ing at In­dia in a big way and weigh­ing ways in which wi-fi could play a greater role in th­ese projects. Just be­fore the WBA vi­sion fo­rum in Delhi, we caught up with its CEO, Shrikant Shen­wai, to know more about its In­dia plans and how wi-fi is be­com­ing the lat­est talk-of-the town.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.