Regulator designs Wi-Fi guideline
Any individual or organisation will be able to provide Wi-Fi services without any licence and within a range of 200 metres, according to a guideline published by the telecom regulator last week.
Wi-Fi is a local area network that uses high frequency radio signals to transmit and receive data over certain distances. However, different quarters want the Wi-Fi range to extend up to two kilometers to bring more people under internet service.
The Wi-Fi option has been embedded in every laptop and smart devices for many years. A revolutionary solution called 'Wi-Fi offload' has lately emerged in the market. It delivers high-speed yet low-cost access to broadband.
Leading vendors like Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei and others have commercially launched such solutions.
Ericsson has recently acquired a Canadian Wi-Fi vendor to enrich its product portfolio.
According to the guideline, any person or private, corporate, public and national entity, along with the mobile phone operators, can use the Wi-Fi band for short range or high-speed digital devices.
A total of 233.5MHz bandwidth has been allocated for Wi-Fi services, according to the guideline.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the regulator, has declared 83.5 Megahertz (2.4000-2.4835 Mhz band) and 150 MHz (5.725-5.875 Mhz band) bands as the Wi-Fi band.
However, access to the spectrum will be on a shared basis and no exclusive spectrum will be allocated to any specific operator, said the guideline.
Another analyst said the Wi-Fi service is provided without any licence everywhere across the world, according to the regulations of the International Telecommunication Union.
The BTRC guideline said: “The maximum operating distance/range covered by the equipment/devices under unlicensed band is limited to 200 metres under any mode of operation.”
An official of the BTRC said the range has been set considering various issues.
If the range is higher than 200 metres, it will intervene in other personal devices such as television remote-control and Bluetooth devices, he said.
However, the analysts said, due to the short range set by the regulator, the service providers will need more devices and their expenditure will go up.
If the regulator does not restrict the range, people of the country, especially the rural people, will get high-speed internet at a very low cost, they said.
“The maximum range should be two kilometers,” said Nazrul Islam Khan, national project director of Support to Digital Bangladesh, formerly known as Access to Information project.
He said the telecom operators should come forward to provide the Wi-Fi service.
The BTRC should create pressure on the operators to start the service soon, he said.
However, welcoming the guideline, Mahmud Hossain, chief corporate officer of Grameenphone, said it is a good initiative of the BTRC.
The BTRC has not made licensing mandatory following the international best practices, he said, adding that Wi-Fi services will compliment the cellular network for providing broadband services and reduce pressure on the mobile network.
Zakiul Islam, director of legal and corporate division of Banglalink, said the European and American countries use Wi-Fi to reduce pressure on their mobile network.
“We want to introduce Wi-Fi service to provide high-speed internet at affordable prices,” he added.
Abu Saeed Khan, secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, said Alcatel-Lucent claims its Wi-Fi solution covers up to 1.2 kilometers with the uplink speed of 36Mbps and downlink speed of 21Mbps.
So, Wi-Fi offload saves the mobile industry from paying hefty licence fees for 3G or 4G licences in the countries like Bangladesh, he said.
"Consumers don't care which technology links them with broadband. That's why Bangladesh government should facilitate the proliferation of high-speed access to internet through innovative Wi-Fi solutions using the existing mobile network."
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