India: 20 mn broadband connection by 2010



While speaking at the inauguration of 4th Broadband Tech India 2007, Mr. G.S Grover, member Services, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications & IT said that the international call rates will drop down to the level of domestic calls rates in the near future due the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).The annual conference on broadband which is in it’s fourth year was organised by Bharat Exhibitions.


According to Mr Grover, the broadband revolution which has already started, will lead India into its next phase of economic growth. “Last time when the government reduced the entry fee and revenue share for international long distance license, the number of service providers jumped from four to 31 resulting in intense competition and lower costs to the users. Same situation is about to happen in this segment also,” added Mr. Grover.


The major issue which was slowing the growth in this segment was the speed, India, felt the industry representative, to offer bandwidth of not just 2 Mbps or 4Mbps but bandwidth of 20 Mbps to 40 Mbps as in Korea and Japan.


“Among all technology options for rural connectivity advanced wireless systems are the best suited. Among the various AWS options available, the one with minimal disruptions is the most preferred On this course CDMA 1XEVDO is the front runner”. said Mr B V Raman, Country Head CDG India.


While giving his keynote address Mr. Vijay Yadav, Managing Director for South Aisa, UT Starcom said that soon we would be able to have access to broadband of 2 Mbps or above speed anywhere in India at zero or near zero cost.” According to him this could touch off a new revolution in the country. Connecting over six lakh villages with broadband connectivity will help introduce the power of IPTV as an enabling tool that could eventually bring BPOs to locate in India’s villages.


According to Mr Grover, each year, over 10,000 villages, schools, hospitals and other public places would have broadband access. Today the country has about 2.7 million connections and by the year 2010 the number is expected to cross 20 million broadband connections.


To make broadband a success story in India, 2 Mbps and above connected needs to be made free or near free and be charged only on the basis of usage of content. “Providing free access for connecting to villages across the country and also enabling villagers connect with government from their village will be it its. High bandwidth would touch off- high usage in distant education, e-medicine, distance health care and entertainment. The Commercial Houses would find opening to a huge consumer market through this connectivity,” said Mr Yadav. “We can call it a “button revolution” as Indian villagers would respond more to video rather than to data and to flicking of a button rather than working with a keypad,” he further added.


Adding to this Mr. Kuldip Singh, Director (Technical), MTNL, “On our part, we are already giving 2.5 Mbps broadband connectivity as a part of the new telephone connection free. The customer will be billed for usage only.” The service provider for the Delhi and Mumbai metros has strengthened its network with MPLS technology so that all broadband users get the basic 2 Mbps bandwidth without fail. While according to BSNL Director, Rajendra Singh, BSNL was planning a widespread rollout of broadband connectivity across the country. To begin with the company is planning to provide broadband connectivity over wire-line to 25,000 villages and another 25,000 villages through Wi-Max to begin with, while the inaccessible interior would be connected using satellites.


While giving his key note address, the TRAI’s Principal adviser Mr. Lav Gupta pointed out that 90 per cent of the present 2.7 million connections were getting only 256 Kbps bandwidth. According to him the challenges before the broadband service providers would is that the costs of providing the service and the content was becoming costly. While Ms Usha Rajeev, Leader Info -com Practice, Price water Cooper suggested that the involvement of all stake holders in getting a low cost network is of utmost importance.


Bharti Airtel chief of strategy Shankar Halder also cautioned the service providers to first ensure that there were compelling reasons for users to go for broadband through effective content. “Otherwise they will not use it” he added.