Sunday, May 17, 2015

Public Wi-Fi to Support Mobile Data in India

Reliance Jio Infocomm, a subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, plans to enter into agreements with various state and local authorities to offer Wi-Fi  services.

But Ozone, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India also plan huge public Wi-Fi networks.

Reliance also is building fiber to premises networks in 900 cities and towns as well, which will create the backhaul networks needed to support the Wi-Fi deployments.

It seems highly likely that is part of an effort to leverage public hotspots to support mobile services, which Reliance Jio also is launching across india.

In part, that strategy is dictated by Reliance Jio spectrum holdings, which are heavily in the 2300 MHz band, where in-building coverage is going to be an issue.

Also, the capital investment to create public hotspot coverage is vastly better than the cost to install additional mobile tower sites.

Separately, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India created a Wi-Fi joint venture, Firefly Networks,to create a similar public hotspot network.

Firefly Networks is currently building in Delhi, and will compete with Reliance Jio for Wi-Fi supplied as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India and Smart City initiatives.

Firefly Networks is a 50:50 joint venture between Bharti and Vodafone India, the largest mobile service providers in India.

Those efforts illustrate the fact that public Wi-Fi, which might otherwise be thought to be impractical, at best, where there is little fixed network infrastructure, actually does make sense in India, since the areas of heaviest mobile Internet usage at present are the urban centers, where fixed network infrastructure does exist.

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