25 July, 2004

Broadband Blueprint :
The TRAI''s roadmap for broadband will have far-reaching implications. Broadband connectivity, as defined in the TRAI report, is always-on connectivity of 256 Kbps or higher. While one can argue about the connection speed, that is a big leap from what is advertised today (64-128 Kbps). Broadband is the end game for the computer, communications and consumer electronics industries.

"The problem in India, as we have all experienced, is connectivity. TRAI has estimated that bandwidth in India costs 1,200 times more than in south Korea, which is the most wired nation"
Subscription prices of broadband services in India are 60 times higher than those in Korea, which translates to 1,200 times higher considering purchasing power

One of the most important TRAI recommendations is that of local loop unbundling. In simple words, this means that the incumbent telcos (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd) need to open up access on their last mile to others for an appropriate fee.

This way, others do not need to replicate what is an expensive last-mile infrastructure. While the concept is sound, this is a non-trivial decision for the government-owned telcos. The interests of a few are likely to supersede those of many.

Let us set a goal of providing a "whole solution" of hardware (access device), software, broadband connectivity and tech support for Rs 700 per user per month. Of this, broadband access (512 Kbps or higher) should cost no more than Rs 250 a month.

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