New Delhi: Telecom connections in the country may be witnessing the fastest growth worldwide, but broadband users are not keeping pace and the target of having nine million customers by the end of this year will be missed in all likelihood.
Total broadband connections have reached 2.47 million by the end of July with an addition of 50,000 subscribers, according to latest figures released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. This means that the country would have to add 1.3 million subscribers every month to meet the target.
Ironically, 2007 has been designated as the “Year of Broadband”. As per Department of Telecom’s (DoT) broadband policy of 2004, the subscriber base should grow to 20 million by 2010.
The industry has already missed the first target of three million broadband subscribers by 2005-end and this has not even been fulfilled even after more than one-and-a-half years.
In contrast, the target of 250 million for telecom subscribers by this year-end is set to be achieved earlier.
The telecom subscriber base was 225.01 million in June and the monthly mobile addition has been between 6-7 million.
DoT officials said the addition of broadband subscribers has been much below expectation but ruled out any move to provide access of BSNL and MTNL copper network to private operators to push broadband penetration.
Addition a month before the end of 2007 and to trigger this growth BSNL and MTNL have came out with an aggressive plan to provide broadband connections with minimum download speed of up to two Mbps from January 2007.
Officials said there are more than 40 million copper loops available with BSNL and MTNL, out of which 14 million loops are in rural areas. Copper cable network of these operators is a combination of old and new cable and this makes providing broadband on all the available copper loop technically difficult.
Therefore, around 25-30% of the remaining 26 million loops or about seven million loops can be leveraged for broadband service by BSNL and MTNL, taking into account the condition of copper cable and demand potential.