Written by IEEE | November 15, 2018

At India Mobile Congress (IMC), the Government of India announced an ambitious commitment to install one million public Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide by December of next year, called Bharat Wi-Fi. This shift in the digital communication landscape stands to empower millions of people. So what exactly is involved in this type of effort, and what technologies will play a role?

As part of their announcement, the Ministry of Communications says Bharat Wi-Fi will be owned and operated by telecom service providers, internet service providers and virtual network operators. This means the networks will need to be interoperable, allowing consumers to access the hotspot of any partnering operator.

IEEE President and CEO Jim Jefferies spoke at IMC where the announcements were made, recognizing the significance of the event.  

To Jefferies, success within the challenging 13-month timeline depends on a number of key technologies: “Given the complexity of 5G technology, a successful implementation of this technology would require deep expertise ranging from semiconductor physics, massive MIMO, software-defined networks, shared spectrum access, wireless backhaul, security and applications to name a few.”

One of the examples of 5G complexity Jefferies mentions above, massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna systems, are a key part of plans to provide faster speeds to people in remote areas. Work in this area has been noted on The Institute: a distributed setup with hundreds of antennae connected by optical fibers can be used to boost the reliability of 5G connections. The resulting speeds can turn over-the-air 10 kb/s internet into a staggering 100 mb/s.

Another complexity he mentions, software-defined networking, can be transformative over long distances as well, since new features that improve the efficiency of the system can be delivered as software updates. Done right, these centrally-distributed fixes can mean faster progress fewer hardware expenses.

When it comes to 5G, “IEEE through its research and technical depth across its societies and through the IEEE Future Networks along with strong expertise in standards development through IEEE Standards Association will play a key role in driving this next generation technology globally,” Jefferies said at IMC.

This work, together with India-specific requirements, will help chart the future of Bharat Wi-Fi. IEEE is excited to play a role in this transformative project.