‘Wi-Fi Is Go­ing to Be a Key Build­ing Block in In­dia’s Dig­i­tal Em­pow­er­ment’

Voice&Data - - CONTENT - Pre­rnaS harma pre­rnas@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in

Voice&Data: Ac­cord­ing to you, how im­por­tant is Wi-Fi in In­dia’s dig­i­tal em­pow­er­ment?

Sanjeev Sarin: I strongly feel that if In­dia really wants to be a dig­i­tally em­pow­ered coun­try, Wi-Fi is go­ing to be a key build­ing block as there is a se­vere lack of in­fra­struc­ture for home broad­band and con­sis­tent wire­less cov­er­age. Wi-Fi is unique as it is an in­ex­pen­sive data-cen­tric broad­band ac­cess tech­nol­ogy avail­able in the ma­jor­ity of de­vices shipped to­day. This makes Wi-Fi a high po­ten­tial tech­nol­ogy for low-cost data ac­cess and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices for the masses.

Voice&Data: In your opin­ion, what are the big­gest chal­lenges for the gov­ern­ment’s Dig­i­tal In­dia vi­sion?

Sanjeev Sarin: I be­lieve Dig­i­tal In­dia is one of those vi­sion­ary ideas that have the po­ten­tial and depth to trans­form In­dia. The plan is to es­tab­lish a dig­i­tal plat­form to dig­i­tally con­nect and de­liver gov­ern­ment pro­grams and ser­vices to in­di­vid­u­als across In­dia, along­side con­tent and ser­vices users want to ac­cess. There are a few chal­lenges that need to be ad­dressed if we are to achieve the Dig­i­tal In­dia goal; in­fra­struc­ture, neu­tral­ity, and se­cu­rity be­ing the prime con­cerns. In­dia will need mas­sive data stor­age as all the data needs to be backed up at an alternate site. This will re­quire huge in­vest­ments to set up dat­a­cen­ters in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try.

We need to en­cour­age all ser­vice providers and part­ners to ed­u­cate users to use the net­works, and en­sure they have a sus­tain­able busi­ness model. So neu­tral­ity is key to the roll out of in­fra­struc­ture. All providers should get ac­cess equally to grow Dig­i­tal In­dia. If we are not in­clu­sive, like projects in other coun­tries, the project will fail, and it’s too crit­i­cal to fail. In­dia is a na­tion where we do not take se­cu­rity se­ri­ously, which has left our IT in­fra­struc­ture defenceless. Se­cur­ing the data is go­ing to be a huge chal­lenge.

Voice&Data: How will the an­nounce­ment of free Wi-Fi im­pact ser­vice providers? How will they be able to cover their in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments?

Sanjeev Sarin: I would not call the ser­vice ‘free Wi-Fi’ but in­stead call it a com­pli­men­tary Wi-Fi for the cus­tomers. At the end of the day noth­ing is free, as some­one has to pay for the net­work, so we will have ad­ver­tis­ers and part­ners spon­sor us­age by the cus­tomers, so that we can fund oper­a­tions and grow our net­work.

Con­nec­tiv­ity or In­ter­net has be­come more of an in­fra­struc­ture re­quire­ment like the road, wa­ter, and elec­tric­ity, so the need for In­ter­net is go­ing to be huge. Only 6% pop­u­la­tion is con­nected to­day in a pop­u­la­tion of 1.27 bn. This leaves out a huge pop­u­la­tion of around 800-900 mn un­con­nected.

Again, we also need to understand that it’s not to­tally free. Ser­vice providers of­fer com­pli­men­tary packs to con­sumers. For in­stance, for 30 min­utes, 60 min­utes, 90 min­utes and in cer­tain cases even an­nual pack­ages, de­pend­ing on the cus­tomer pref­er­ence and us­age.

Also, the cus­tomer is no­ti­fied once the com­pli­men­tary ses­sion is over and has the choice to pay and con­tinue. I would also like to add that ev­ery in­dus­try needs to work with a com­bi­na­tion and have a free plus paid model, but in the end all busi­nesses need rev­enue to sur­vive and grow. As a ser­vice provider, one needs to mon­e­tize things to cover in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments and con­tinue to de­liver cus­tomers a seam­less In­ter­net ex­pe­ri­ence, in­vest­ing in more and more lo­ca­tions to give true ac­cess where the user needs it.

Voice&Data: Please share your views on how free Wi-Fi will im­pact mo­bile data com­pa­nies.

Sanjeev Sarin: Wi-Fi has a def­i­nite role to play to im­prove traf­fic con­cerns and it is the pre­ferred form of data con­nec­tion used by many cus­tomers. Glob­ally, Wi-Fi is a com­pli­men­tary part of the data net­work ecosys­tem for op­er­a­tors, and In­dia will be no dif­fer­ent, as the surge of traf­fic on mo­bile net­works will need Wi-Fi net­works to shoul­der the load.

—Sanjeev Sarin CEO & Founder, Ozone Net­works

—Sanjeev Sarin CEO & Founder, Ozone Net­works

In the wake of Delhi gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing pro­vid­ing free Wi-Fi in the state, Voice&Data spoke to Sanjeev Bobby Sarin, Founder & CEO, Ozone Net­works to know more about how the plan will help in fu­elling In­dia’s dig­i­tal jour­ney and how it will im­pact the ser­vice providers. Ex­cerpts

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