By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Launched as recently as last May, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenWiFi initiative – the aim of which is to drive down cost and increase ubiquity of Wi-Fi services everywhere – is building momentum with a host of deployments across Asia and now also Africa. One of the vendors leading the charge is India-based IO Networks by HFCL.
The drive to disaggregate Wi-Fi networks through open-source software is accelerating across the world following the launch of the Telecom Infra Project OpenWiFi initiative in May of this year. Among the vendors leading the charge is India-based IO Networks by HFCL. IO Networks by HFCL says they are actively deploying two substantial OpenWiFi-based networks in India as well as Africa’s first TIP OpenWiFi network for students and staff at Kenyatta University in Kenya.
“Hundreds of IO Networks OpenWiFi-compliant access points have already been deployed and we’re seeing excellent demand from India, Africa. We’re even receiving requests from Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia,” says Bhuvnesh Sachdeva, VP Product Development at IO Networks by HFCL.
A first PM-WANI public Wi-Fi network was deployed in the Indian village of Baslambi (Haryana) in May of this year – read more here – and now India’s Karnataka State is in the process of deploying a PM-WANI network with more than 100 access points, Bhuvnesh Sachdeva says. For India the goal is to install more than 2,000 OpenWiFi-compliant access points in the field by December this year, IO Networks says. Free or low-cost Wi-Fi services for rural India is nothing less than a ‘digital revolution’ in the making.
“There is no question that the concept of disaggregation – unlocking Wi-Fi hardware from core software and making the software open-source as opposed to proprietary – is unlocking enormous opportunity for vendors and of course even more so for the consumers and business on the receiving end of new low-cost Wi-Fi services. Disaggregation is changing the face of digital connectivity,” says Bhuvnesh Sachdeva.
Meanwhile Africa’s first OpenWiFi network is right now being rolled out by the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET). The new Wi-Fi network will provide connectivity for 65,000 students and staff at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya and elsewhere.
The KENET OpenWiFi network will be delivered and deployed by Kenyan Cloud and integration services provider Atlancis together with ecosystem partners NetExperience and IO Networks by HFCL. Bhuvnesh Sachdeva points to the KENET network as a perfect example of how TIP OpenWiFi ecosystem collaboration works: IO Networks by HFCL provides the access point hardware, while Netexperience delivers the open-source controller software. Other current OpenWiFi projects involve controller software from TIP OpenWiFi-compliant vendor Indio Networks, he says.
“The KENET network and our other OpenWiFi-compliant projects are excellent examples of how the OpenWiFi community works and strong proof that OpenWiFi is the right Wi-Fi architecture choice, especially for both Africa and Asia. We’re excited to be part of a strong international community bringing cost-effective, disaggregated Wi-Fi to both Africa and Asia,” Bhuvnesh Sachdeva says.
Overall the Telecom Infra Project says the OpenWiFi initiative continues to gather tremendous momentum with trials ongoing also in North America and Europe.
“The TIP OpenWiFi community applauds and appreciates IO Networks by HFCL for their commitment to the OpenWiFi initiative. HFCL have been among the early adopters of OpenWiFi and among the first wave of companies deploying real world OpenWiFi based networks in multiple locations in India. We believe OpenWiFi can create new market opportunities for companies like HFCL to serve a global market, creating highly competitive product options for service providers and Enterprise Wi-Fi customers alike,” says Chetan Hebbalae, Co-chair of the Wi-Fi Solution Group at the Telecom Infra Project.