by Elton Gomes
Mobile phone users might soon be able to make voice calls over a Wi-Fi network. On Wednesday, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) amended certain license conditions, which allows telecom companies to allot a single number for cellular mobile service as well as phone internet services.
This will help internet carriers to offer voice over Wi-Fi services even in the absence of a cellular signal. The new initiative will aid mobile users in that it will help users start an internet call with the help of the nearest public Wi-Fi network.
The DoT said in its notice that all licensees should comply with “all the interception and monitoring-related requirements” mentioned in the license. It further noted that, “the subscribers may be informed about the limitation of providing access to emergency services to internet telephony subscribers in unambiguous terms. The licensees must inform quality of service parameter supported by them for internet telephony so that the subscribers can take an informed decision.”
During the past year, the government has taken concrete steps to increase the availability of Wi-Fi in public places. After approving the use of Wi-Fi in flights over Indian airspace, the government is seeking to provide coverage across 7,000 railway stations in India.
Besides this, the government has claimed that it will set up 7.5 lakh public WiFi hotspots by the end of 2018. Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told the Times of India that the rollout will largely focus on providing high-speed internet in semi-urban and rural areas. India’s leading telcom players like Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, and state-owned BSNL, among others, were expected to carry out services.
The supposed motive behind such a push for WiFi was e-governance and digital development: “The idea is to enable e-governance and digital-development initiatives through provision of high-speed, and affordable internet infrastructure,” Sundararajan said to the Times of India.
At the start of 2017, Mumbai was the first city to have WiFi connectivity in public places. The metropolis saw 500 WiFi hotspots being activated. The WiFi service was free for some time, and attracted a fee after usage of 100 mb.
After Mumbai, cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bihar, and Bangalore have public WiFi hotspots. With 5g services in the offing, India might soon witness a more connected and digital atmosphere. Although the government is taking well-defined steps to proliferate the use of WiFi, citizens should keep in mind the pros and cons of using public WiFi.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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