The WiFi Alliance has released a fairly comprehensive 62 page report on opportunities and challenges for WiFi in India.
It states that the WiFi market in India is still in its infancy, and lack of bandwidth, low penetration of laptops and PDAs are inhibitors, but that situation is changing fast. The laptop market will double over the next two years, and exceed 5.5 million annual units by 2009-10.
After announcements by Dishnet Wireless and Sify in 2003-04 for opening thousands of hotspots, the plans fizzled out primarily due to lack of viability. Hotspot deployments have gone up by 20 percent since last year, mainly in hotels, coffee chains and airports. BSNL is in the process of setting up 300 hotspots in 24 cities, with each hotspot supporting around 50 subscribers. Railtel plans to touch 100 hotspots by 2007 end, and 500 in around 3 years (more on Railtel’s plans here). Government led projects on WiFi could unravel, lose steam or stagnate at any time.
The youth will be adopters of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA). The growth of organized retail is an opportunity. A removal of restriction over VoIP and VoIP over Wifi will lead to a proliferation of dual band Wifi Cellular devices.
The issues: Number of hotspots will increase, but billing and roaming related issues need to be resolved. Lack of reliable power supply is a problem, as is the battery life of mobile devices. None of the WiFi initiatives announced have a clearly articulated business model.
Download the report here (requires free registration).
Meanwhile, MTNL Delhi has announced the launch of WiFi solutions in Delhi reports Indiantelevision. WiFi Modems are being made availabe at a rental of Rs.150 a month, the charges are same as that for broadband. They’ve already got hotspots at the domestic airport, Pragati Maidan and India Habitat Center, among other places. There’s also an option for a public-private partnership, wherein payment for usage can be collected via prepaid scratch cards for MTNL’s prepaid broadband service. Also, MTNL says that WiMax has been enabled and trial runs are on. All that is needed is government permission. More here.