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Telcos oppose Trai's public wifi model, call it a national security threat

Monday, July 09, 2018

Telecom operators have opposed public wifi model recommended by the sector regulator Trai, saying it will adversely impact debt ridden industry and compromise national security.

Based on existing rules for cyber cafes, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had recommended that a new set of players to be called Pubic Data Office Aggregator (PDOA) should be allowed to resell internet services through yesteryears PCOs type of set-up that will be called Public Data Offices.

The regulator had recommended that like cyber cafes, which provide internet access to public after registering themselves, PDOA should be allowed to provision internet access services after registering themselves with the telecom department.

"...The proposal to sell internet services without a licence, will be a complete bypass of present licensing framework, detrimental to massive investments already made in spectrum, telecom infrastructure... Additionally, we believe it will seriously compromise national security," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said in a letter to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan.

The Cellular Operators Association of India, whose member include Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone, Idea Cellular etc, has been opposing implementation of Trai's suggestions for public wifi services since April 12, 2017.

The industry body in the latest letter dated July 5, 2018 expressed disappointment on Trai's recommendation and said that its implementation will lead to a non-level playing field between telecom operators who hold licence and those who will provide internet service without licence.

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