Broadband India Forum (BIF) has launched the ‘BIF Connectivity Accelerator Program’ and has shortlisted top 10 ventures for the same. BIF has partnered with Headstart Network Foundation and Meta, for this initiative.

The BIF Connectivity Accelerator Program for awareness, facilitation and proliferation of the digital connectivity ecosystem in the country with special emphasis on leveraging the Prime Minister Wi-Fi access network interface (PM-WANI) public Wi-Fi scheme was inaugurated by the K. Rajaraman, chairperson, Digital Communication Commission (DCC) and secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) at the Wi-Fi India 2022 Summit.

Commenting on the occasion, Harwesh Bhatiya, director general (Telecom), DoT, said, “PM-WANI is an important initiative of the government in terms of enhancing the digital connectivity landscape of India, especially in rural areas. Besides facilitating education, healthcare and livelihood, the growth of Public Wi-Fi hotspots would also lead to greater job opportunities, thereby driving socio-economic growth in the regions. There is immense growth potential for public Wi-Fi in providing affordable and reliable internet and digital services to the citizens. I am pleased to note the efforts of BIF through the Connectivity Accelerator program, towards helping develop a robust and effective public Wi-Fi ecosystem, and especially in leveraging PM-WANI to help achieve the NDCP objective of 10 million Wi-Fi hotspots in the country.”

The top 10 Ventures will be going through an intensive, fast paced program, to exponentially scale their businesses. The accelerator program offers the ventures various elements of engagements to support them in their journey. It offers masterclasses by experts in business, technology, investment, marketing, etc.; mentorship by industry experts to not only guide them during the course of the program, but also to connect them with opportunities beyond; networking opportunities with corporates, and other partners; and finally demo day (end of July 2022) with eminent panellist to determine whether the ventures are eligible for investments, or collaboration.

Meanwhile, T.V. Ramachandran, President, BIF, said, “These startups and ventures are helping us resolve the internet connectivity challenges both in business and technology, for urban and rural India; while also bringing in new innovation into the PM-WANI ecosystem. This will further ensure more sustainable business opportunities for all the stakeholders, especially the PDOs and PDOAs. We are extending all possible support and guidance to these promising entities through the BIF Connectivity Accelerator program, and are confident that there will be significant and inspiring outcomes from it.”

One of the important objectives in the upcoming months is to enhance the PM-WANI ecosystem by exploring, and supporting to pilot a plethora of innovative, and in some cases, disruptive business models and ‘proof-of-concepts’, designed by the shortlisted ventures; and by bringing in the existing top ventures in the internet connectivity domain to extend their services to the players of this ecosystem. This accelerated approach towards the execution, in a short time, will not only scale up the ventures, but also will promote consequential augmentations to the quality of the internet in the rural and remote parts of our country, thereby improving the lives of the locals.

With this program, BIF is taking a big step towards achieving the objectives of the PM-WANI initiative. The use-cases and the lucrative opportunities displayed in this program will encourage more such ventures to take part in this mission to help realise the true ‘Digital India’.