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Telecom minister Manoj Sinha on Friday launched a public data office machine that will work like yesteryear's telephone booths to provide low-cost Wi-Fi service to mobile phone users. The public data office (PDO), developed by state-run C- DOT, can be installed at any neighbourhood shop or even on push carts to provide low-cost Wi-Fi powered data packs to public. The PDO creates Wi-Fi hotspots using 2G, 3G or 4G signals and connect up to 100 mobile devices at a given time in a range of 500 metres. A retailer using PDO would issue coupons of small units to consumers for accessing Internet services. "C-DoT has developed technologies which are getting deployed in various networks of service providers," Sinha while speaking the PDO launch event. "It has got huge scope in rural area where people are hungry to use Internet services and avail various sitting at home. Like PCOs helped in retailing phone call services, PDOs will help in retailing wifi services," the Centre for Development of Telematics Executive Director Vipin Tyagi said. "The government is expanding wifi services in rural area.
The PDO will use wifi signal to amplify it and create wifi hotspots. It can even catch signal from mobile towers. There is no need to insert sim or wireline connection to create hotpots," Tyagi said. He said that the C-DOT is keeping an eye on consultation process of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India which has proposed allowing general retailers to sell data connection. "In present scenario only internet service providers or virtual network operators can use it for providing data retail service but it can be modified to suit the licence conditions later," Tyagi said. C-DOT expects to transfer PDO technology to domestic manufacturers within 2-3 months and expect the product to retail below Rs 50,000 a unit.