New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or Trai, has asked the government to allocate radio spectrum for offering 3G, or third-generation wireless services, at the earliest to help increase broadband subscriber base.
There are only about three million such connections, a far cry from almost nine million broadband subscribers by 2007 that the government had estimated.
High-speed broadband access allows users to download data and browse Internet services at about 256kb per second. According to researcher Frost and Sullivan, the Indian market for providing broadband services was estimated to be around Rs1,009 crore in 2007 and projected to reach Rs5,123 crore by 2012.
The regulator has asked the government to “expedite (a) decision on Trai’s recommendation regarding mechanism and pricing of spectrum for 3G and broadband wireless access”, in its recommendations on growth of broadband, submitted to Siddhartha Behura, the new secretary at department of telecommunications, on Wednesday.
According to Trai, while China adds 3.32 million broadband connections every three months, some 0.08 million broadband connections are added every quarter in India.
Trai also asked the government to increase broadband targets for state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or BSNL, and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, or MTNL.
“BSNL and MTNL should be encouraged to appoint franchises for providing broadband services to supplement their efforts,” Trai said. “There should be total flexibility in developing a commercial model.”
“We have grossly failed on achieving the broadband target,” Kuldeep Goyal, chairman and managing director of BSNL had told Mint in a November interview. “It was planned that out of nine million, public sector should account for 50%, and the remaining from the private sector—both have failed.” BSNL, which currently has around 2.5 million broadband customers, plans to achieve 10 million connections by 2010.
Meanwhile, charges for broadband services continue to come down, from Rs1,500 per month in 2004 to almost Rs200 currently.
Experts say applications, such as Internet-based television services or Internet protocol TV (IPTV) could play a significant role in broadband penetration.
“However, for that to happen, required radio spectrum needs to be allocated early so that the operators can start readying their networks,” said a senior Trai official, who did not wish to be identified.
Trai also asked cable operators to increase broadband penetration in the almost 71 million households they serve.
“Only 0.25 million broadband connections are being offered over cable TV—almost 10%, or around seven million of this base could be added to the overall broadband subscriber base,” Trai said in its recommendations.