Public Wi-Fi will connect 40 million new users to the internet by 2019 and contribute $20 billion to India’s GDP by 2019, according to a new report by global consultancy firm Analysys Mason. The report, launched on Wednesday, claims that around 100 million people would be willing to spend an additional $2-3 billion per year on handsets and a similar amount on cellular mobile broadband services, as a result of experiencing fast broadband on public Wi-Fi.

The report, commissioned by Google, further outlines an opportunity to develop a wider connectivity ecosystem with public Wi-Fi as a key component, which can not only benefit users and wireless internet service providers (ISPs) but also telecom service providers (TSPs), handset manufacturers and venue owners. TSPs in particular can benefit by monetising demand for faster mobile broadband and higher data volumes on their networks, as people get used to fast speeds and ubiquitous connectivity, the report says.

Public Wi-Fi will also drive productivity improvements from high speed Wi-Fi for the overall economy, and can also translate into tangible benefits to the GDP—by around $20 billion between 2017-19 and at least $10 billion per annum thereafter. The report further highlights that the investment in public Wi-Fi can further unlock an opportunity for mobile operators to offload excess data traffic from cellular networks, and deploy advanced technologies such as Hotspot 2.0 for ensuring interoperable roaming between cellular and Wi-Fi.

The Railtel project also shows significant pent up demand for connectivity, among train commuters in stations covered by the Railtel/Google project who have used the service. With unconstrained, free high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, an average user consumes over 300MB in an average 30-minute data session. This is much higher when compared with an average 3G connection in the country currently, that consumes around 100MB per user per day, whereas an average active Reliance Jio user consumed 560MB of data per day. This heavy usage is clear testimony of the significant demand potential that lies dormant in India, and which can be activated through deployment of ubiquitous Wi-Fi networks in the country, according to the report. The report points out that the usage of over 300MB using the Railtel/Google high-speed Wi-Fi is just for a 30-minute session, compared to the usage of 560MB for a Reliance Jio user for an entire day.

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