RailTel launches PM Wi-Fi access network interface in 100 railway stations

As part of a further upgrade to passenger-friendly facilities on rail premises, RailTel has launched the Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) – access based on its Wi-Fi services. Public Fi in 100 major railway stations including Mumbai Central, Pune and Bhubaneswar in the country.

PM-WANI based access will facilitate ease of use through unique knowledge of your customer (KYC) to avoid One Time Password (OTP) based authentication, every time one tries to use WANI-based public WiFi.

These 100 large stations with 2,384 WiFi hotspots are spread across 22 states. In order to access this WiFi network, an Android-based mobile application named “Wi-DOT” can be used, available on Google Play Store. The application was developed in close collaboration with C-DOT.

This method of accessing Wi-Fi via a “mobile app” would complement the existing methods of accessing Wi-Fi at these stations via the conventional method of selecting the RailWire Service Set Identifier (SSID ).

Speaking about this, President and CEO of RailTel, Puneet Chawla said, “RailTel being the most widespread integrated Wi-Fi network in the country supporting the largest number of Wi-Fi users, plays a role anchor across the PM-WANI ecosystem, continuously engaging with regulators and industry players, to improve the evolving framework.”

RailTel’s WiFi network is now spread over 6,102 stations across India with a total of 17,792 WiFi access points, and continues to grow.

Later, PM-WANI access to RailTel’s public Wi-Fi services would be extended to all 6,102 stations (where Wi-Fi is already available) in a phased manner by the end of June 2022.

According to RailTel, the telecom arm of the railways, a total of 1,000 stations would be provided PM-WANI by June 10, 3,000 stations by June 20 and 6,102 by June 30, 2022.

Chawla said: “RailTel will extend its Wi-Fi footprint beyond stations by leveraging its partnership with over 7,000 last mile service providers to establish Wi-Fi hotspots in underserved areas.

WiFi, worldwide, is being adopted to complement long-term evolution (LTE)-based broadband access. Wi-Fi hotspots occupy an important place in last mile connectivity for providing high-speed Internet access to users.

PM-WANI is an ambitious Department of Telecommunications program aimed at facilitating ease of use and proliferating the use of broadband for the masses. C-DOT designed and developed the PM-WANI framework.

Small merchants can become PDOs (Public Data Offices) as last mile access service providers and take the services of PDO aggregators for internet and backend services.

RailTel’s Wi-Fi network in stations serves more than 1.2 million unique users on the eve of Covid.

Chawla said, “RailTel is also making continuous efforts to bring high-speed internet connectivity to more and more rural areas as part of India’s digital mission.”

RailTel offers free Wi-Fi for the first 30 minutes at stations, beyond which paid Wi-Fi usage can be purchased through online digital channels.

C-DOT Chairman, Rajkumar Upadhyay, who was present at the occasion, congratulated RailTel on the launch of the prestigious PM-WANI framework and assured that C-DOT will work tirelessly to align its R&D efforts with indigenous telecommunications with specific RailTel requirements to meet overall national development goals.

Upadhyay highlighted the key role of locally designed and developed technologies to meet the specific requirements of India’s geographical diversity, including rural and remote areas.

He highlighted the synergistic engagement between C-DOT and RailTel which will drive innovation leading to design, development & deployment of indigenous technologies in national networks, including Indian Railways.

PM-WANI hotspots would prove effective in extending cost-effective internet to passengers at rural and remote stations across the country.

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