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India issues Consultation Paper on National Broadband Plan

in Blog, Broadband, India, Internet

While India's Telecom Industry was recently in news due to recent 3G & BWA auctions and expected TD-LTE deployments from winners Qualcomm & RIL (Infotel), another giant step by TELECOM REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA (TRAI) had gone almost unnoticed. TRAI has issued a Consultation Paper on National Broadband Plan on June 10. TRAI is seeking comments on proposed optical fiber network.

According to TRAI's estimation  broadband penetration in India is low in spite of the fact that 104 telecom service providers are providing broadband services. The broadband penetration is just 0.74% when compared with teledensity of 52.74%. A need is being felt to identify impediments and create an environment to encourage broadband growth. The net broadband addition per 2 month is just 0.1 to 0.2 million in contrast to approximately 18 million mobile connections per month.

See below current Internet & Broadband Connections status (in Millions) in India according to consultation paper.

Though 70% of Indian population lives in rural areas; broadband facility is limited to metro and major cities. Availability of broadband is critical for development of rural areas. Out of total 9.0 million broadband subscribers at the end of April 2010, just 5% are in rural areas. The low broadband penetration in rural areas is attributed to non availability of transmission media connectivity upto village level.

According to TRAI, There will be huge increase in the bandwidth requirement due to increase in demand of bandwidth intensive services. Considering the bandwidth requirement of 3 Mbps per household with a high contention ratio of 1:50, and 5%, 20% & 40% households having broadband by 2010, 2012 & 2014 respectively, the estimated core bandwidth requirement as seen by TRAI is below.

The situation demands an urgent focus on creation of robust national infrastructure scalable to cater to future requirements not only in urban areas but also upto villages. For making all villages broadband enabled, an option being explored is taking optical fibre to 375,552 villages having population of 500 or more. Such a network would require laying of about 12 billion kilometres of optical fibre at a cost of about Rs. 323 billion.

This optical fibre network would integrate with backbones of various service providers and users would be able to get broadband with a variety of wired and wireless solutions. In order to initiate focused discussion on all the pertinent issues regarding growth of broadband, the Authority has issued this consultation paper. Stakeholders are requested to send their comments on the consultation paper by 7th July 2010.


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