Inventum receives WiFi Leadership Awards 2019

Inventum Technologies has been conferred with the 3nd My India WiFi India Leadership Award 2019 for  “Best WiFi OSS/BSS  Solution” at the recently concluded My India WiFi Summit & Awards 2019 at The Imperial Hotel, New Delhi on Aug. 20, 2019 organised by DigiAnalysys.

This award recognizes Inventum as one of the top most OSS/BSS Solution provider in India. This is Inventum second year in a row. Inventum had received  My India WiFi India Leadership Award 2018 for “Best Cloud WiFi Solution”.

Mr. Anil Walia (extreme left), CSMO, Inventum, receiving the award from Mr. TR Dua (centre), Director General, TAIPA  accompanied by Mr. Pradeep Kushwah (extreme right), Marketing Manager, Inventum 

The awards ceremony was attended by imminent industry leaders including Dinesh Tyagi, CEO, CSC SPV; Sarvesh Singh, CMD, BBNL; A Seshagiri Rao, CMD, TCIL; Vipin Tyagi, Executive Director, C-DOT; K Alagesan, CMD, ITI and many other dignitary.

Mr. Sachin Mehra (extreme left), CEO Inventum, receiving the award for “Best Cloud WiFi Solution” from Mr. Anuj Jain   (centre), President, Reliance Jio accompanied by Mr. Anil Walia (extreme right), CSMO, Inventum

 Speaking on the event, Mr. Anil Walia, Chief Sales Officer, Inventum, says “We are delighted to receive the My India WiFi India Leadership Award 2019 for Best WiFi OSS/BSS Solution category. This coveted award is result of our continous efforts of improving  ISPs & WISPs customers experience and  providing them a end-to-end solution.”

Inventum’s UNIFY is a complete stack of billing & operations management (B/OSS) software. The key modules for the stack includes AAA, Subscriber CRM, Financial Accounting, Prepay & Postpaid Billing, Reseller Management, Electronic Wallet System and many more.

Inventum is a leading provider of fixed & wireless data networks technology with a strong made in India portfolio. Inventum builds routers, cloud solution, security and software systems that power some of the world’s largest communication networks. Inventum products are used by mobile operators, FTTH providers, ISP, Wi-Fi hotspots, Airports, Hospitality, Convention Centres and Smart Cities.

My India WiFi India Awards were instituted by DigiAnalysys Media in 2017 to recognise and celebrate visionary enterprises across industry segments and to focus on highlighting key trends and technologies in the WiFi segment.

ISP Routers built for Africa launched at ICT Expo 2019 Kigali

A range of routers suited for the African ISP industry were launched at the recently concluded India-Africa ICT Expo 2019. Indian vendor Inventum showcased both its hardware & virtual router products at the event.

Inventum Solution for ICT Africa 2019

Inventum believes that it’s extensive experience with ISP, WISP, hotspots and Smart Cities in India will translate well for African customers who face similar challenges.

Inventum Booth at India Africa ICR 2019
Inventum at India Africa ICT 2019, Kigali, Rwanda

“We are a trusted made in India brand with 2 decades of proven experience in developing hardware and software solutions for the ISP & telecom sector which we believe is ideal for Africa…” said Mr. Anil Walia, Chief Sales Officer, Inventum.

Presently Inventum offers a range of high speed routers, BNG, WAG, cyber security and Wi-Fi access point products. The company also provides OSS/BSS, AAA, Postpaid & prepay billing products.

Inventum Participation at ICT Africa conference
Conference at India Africa ICT 2019, Kigali, Rawanda
Inventum at India-Africa ICT 2019 show held in Kigali, Rwanda

Why Most Public Wi-Fi Hotspots Fail

Public WiFi hotspots have been around for over 15 years. New ones are being created everyday… and are shut down everyday as well. Various state governments in India are in the process of setting up public hotspots as part of their smart cities initiative. The Delhi Government went one step ahead and promised 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi to everyone, everyday. It’s a noble undertaking, but unless they really think it through, it’s unlikely to be more than an election promise that was delivered, but didn’t do anyone any good. Sort of like the BRT.

To put it simply, the problem is a combination of the user experience and funding model.

Hotels that bundle the cost of Wi-Fi in the room rent or large coffee chains that simply write it off as a utility expense like electricity or air-conditioning have a very well defined business model. They know that the revenue earned from their core business (room rent, food and beverages) can be enhanced, or at least sustained by making their location more attractive to customers with free Wi-Fi. Because they know the number of rooms they have, they know the number of visitors they can expect and hence, know how much it will cost to provide a certain quality of Wi-Fi. So, if the cost vs revenue ratio is acceptable, the service is provided and everyone’s happy.

The situation with most other hotspots isn’t so straightforward. Where there’s no clear way to recover the cost of Wi-Fi from other sources, operators attempt to entice customers with a few minutes of free Wi-Fi and then pester them to make an online payment or watch an advertisement. Here’s where the problems start.

Unless we’re just hanging around an airport waiting for a flight to be called or killing time at a coffee shop, most of us don’t have more than a few minutes to spare to sync emails or search the web for a phone number or whatever.

But the experience of connecting, registering, paying, logging in and finally using most public hotspots is so cumbersome and time consuming, that most people don’t bother. Unless the Wi-Fi service is far superior (i.e. faster, cheaper, reliable and convenient), most of us would rather just use the data plan of our mobile phones and be done with it.

The customers don’t use the Wi-Fi beyond the free period and the operators don’t make any money. Everyone loses.

There are ways to make it all work and it has been done before successfully. This article mentioned that Vodafone India might be moving in the right direction. So far, nothing has been announced officially. I guess we’ll just have to wait and watch.

Food, Clothing, Shelter and Free Wi-Fi

With Wi-Fi being politicised by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the recent Delhi elections, it seems our politicians have found a new sop to entice the young voter. Free Wi-Fi is the catch phrase being canvassed across the country, synonymous with smart cities, real estate projects and even the railways.

Will these projects be delivered? And is Wi-Fi even the right technology for smarter cities and an enlightened population? In the case of the former, let’s just say most projects will remain election promises; the suitability of Wi-Fi as a technology to reach Indian masses however, requires more thought.

Wi-Fi Basics

Wi-Fi was invented to take your Internet wire at home or office and make it airborne. For the uninitiated and puritans do forgive me, but this analogy works every time – Wi-Fi does to your home Internet connection what the cordless telephone did to your landline. The idea had always been to deliver fast data over short distances, freeing us from our desks.

The Achilles heel for Wi-Fi is its range and radio interference, dictated by physics more than government regulation. The typical range of your Wi-Fi home router is that of a yesteryear digital cordless telephone. They do of course use similar frequencies (2.4 & 5.8Ghz) and have the same issues penetrating brick and concrete walls in average Indian homes. With Wi-Fi operating on an “open to all” radio frequency, it pre-disposes the technology to lots of interference. Just think of it like rush hour in Delhi, everyone coming at you from all direction, zero lane discipline, and a free for all.

If you have a large enough home to need two routers, you most likely have experienced the limitations of range and interference. Most people I know will have different SSIDs “Ground Floor” and “First Floor” jumping between the two as they walk around the house. Each time you hop, your web page or video stalls.

So I ask the question, is Wi-Fi the right technology to deliver a quality user experience to the populous in a cost effective (since nothing is free) manner?

Experts, mostly expensive Wi-Fi equipment vendors, will argue that their gear has evolved to provide better range and deal with the hopping issue. Many cite examples of successful city-wide projects like Wireless@SG in Singapore. US & European service providers are using Wi-Fi Offload to divert subscriber 3G data traffic over to hotspots in an effort to decongest their mobile networks.

And while these innovations may work very well in other countries, the real question in my mind remains – is it right for Delhi, is it right for India?

Having been part of a company that has contributed to building some of the largest Wi-Fi networks in the world, here are my arguments & learning:

  1. Wi-Fi access points including the outdoor expensive type have an average range of 500 meters or less. Range falls sharply with obstructions such as walls, trees and of course other devices on the same frequency including your 2.4Ghz microwave oven and your existing home Wi-Fi router;

  2. Each access point will need an Internet wire connection to take the airborne signals and switch them back to the ISP. If you live in Delhi, you probably already know how difficult it is to get a quality DSL connection, so getting a reliable wire to each (almost) access point will be a serious challenge;

  3. To cover 1 square kilometer you would need dozens of Wi-Fi access points, each requiring a pole to be mounted, uninterrupted power, Internet backhaul wire, protection from the elements and vandals; One look at the condition of our public CCTV surveillance systems and it will be a wonder if the access point survives the first week;

  4. And then there is the issue of reliable power for each of these access points, sprinkled all over the city. One of our customers (who had installed several outdoor power systems to fuel their Wi-Fi business) summarized the situation quite well “our biggest challenge was protecting the UPS batteries from being stolen from the pole…” ;

  5. Right-of-way from civic authorities to use the poles and permission from homeowners to install and then service the access points is another huge challenge. Unlike mobile towers, you need equipment every 100 meters or so and with prevailing health concerns, fancy getting those;

  6. And then there is the user experience. I have tried and mostly failed to login to the hotspots that exist. It works well in hotels and some airports, but tried a coffee shop recently? No wonder India’s 75 million broadband connections are really 60 million USB data dongles (TRAI Sep 2014).

So seriously, our government wants to do all this for free?

Let’s call the Singaporeans

Singapore recently revamped its decade old Wireless@SG Wi-Fi network, free for citizens & visitors. It was built almost entirely through government grants and operated by a chosen few small service providers. Ask any Singaporean and they will tell you how poor the network used to be.

The Singapore government has now turned to mobile operators (such as M1) to build and manage Wireless@SG. Are the people being served? Time will tell, but Singapore doesn’t have the answer yet.
So will Delhi succeed where Singapore failed?

I think the people would be better served by:

  1. Increasing landline broadband connectivity – believe it or not, India has only 15 million wire based broadband connections serving 304 million broadband users; With bigger bang for their buck in mobile, operators are simply not investing in wires. Wikipedia says 13 million wires against China’s 175 million

  2. Give every citizen of Delhi free 30 minutes worth of 3G data instead. Everyone already has a cellphone and USB data dongles are cheap for those wanting to connect their laptops. The mobile infra is in place and reliable.

  3. Develop every government office as a free hotspot for citizens

  4. Partner local businesses to develop small Wi-Fi zones & hotspots in public private partnership by incentivizing local businesses