The Department of Telecommunication of the Government of India launched PM-WANI (WiFi Access Network Interface) scheme to decentralise public access points and enhance internet penetration across the country. i2e1 (Information to Everyone), a PM-WANI complaint WiFi company, is among the largest players in implementing the Centre’s scheme. Speaking on i2e1’s work for implementation of PM WANI, Satyam Darmora, Founder, i2e1, interacted with Adarsh Som of Elets News Network (ENN).
● How is i2e1 enabling the urban poor to access unlimited high-speed internet at affordable rates under the PM WANI initiative of the Government of India?
PM WANI opens a shared economy where any consumer can share their internet with someone else and earn from this resale. There is no need for a license for a user to share his/ her internet and thereby become a PDO. i2e1’s technology enables customers to share their internet under the defined norms of PM WANI easily. This way, acting as an Airbnb of Internet, i2e1 is able to provide unlimited internet at people’s homes for just Rs 5 per day.
● In what ways PM WANI could prove to be a key pillar for IT infrastructure in the country?
PM WANI has two visionary aspects:
- It opens a shared economy where any consumer can share their internet with someone else and earn from this resale. There is no need for a license for a user to share his/ her internet and thereby become a PDO. Imagine this as Airbnb of the internet.
- It also opens a platform play since PDO aggregators (called PDOAs) can work with multiple Internet Service Providers and Local Service providers to create a ubiquitous network. Imagine this as an UBER of the internet.
Both these aspects ultimately reduce the cost to customers and improve the user experience. Hence, PM WANI is pathbreaking in its approach and can have a far-reaching effect on faster, and unlimited internet delivery in the country.
Further, PM-WANI promises to be a strategic national initiative and is designed with the finest architectural principles in mind. Modelled similar to Unified Payments Interface (UPI), as in the case of financial services, it is bound to succeed with the right investments and drive from the government. The success of WANI will surely catapult India’s digital story into the next orbit.
● How i2e1 managed to implement PM WANI during the COVID-19 pandemic? What were the major challenges you faced?
i2e1 worked in partnership with over 35 local operators during the COVID phase. The key challenges included shutting down small retailers who typically act as PDOs and setting up new hotspots during the lockdown phase. Since most of our partners are local operators, we were able to work even during the lockdown phase.
● i2e1 aims to provide over 9 million citizens access to affordable internet by creating 1 million hotspots across India by 2026. Please throw some light on this.
The Government of India plans to have 10 million hotspots. I2e1 being one of the largest players intends to capture at least 10 per cent of this number in the next five years. At the current growth rate and support from our existing investors, we are confident of achieving these goals.