New Delhi: Gap between target and achievement to accomplish broadband penetration in India will exceed 10 million by 2010, unless per PC availability at Rs.10,000/- with adequate infrastructure is not made available to rural folk to connect them with urban and semi-urban population, according to a report brought out jointly by Assocham and Frost & Sullivan on Rs.Broadband in India’, to be released on 18July.
The report highlights that there is need for household PC penetration with much increased awareness, in the absence of which broadband household penetration is less than 1% even now.
It expresses surprise that in the last seven years, India could provide broadband connectivity to less than 2.5 million subscribers as against its target of three million, nine million and 20 million for 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively.
For spreading broadband the report recommends that India’s available infrastructure must be spruced up. This can be done not only through telephone lines but also through power lines. The electric line will become the most obvious choice for spreading broadband since it is far more widespread and touches many homes.
Until this happens, the target and achievement of broadband penetration will have a gap of 10 million against the targeted figure of 20 million by 2010. However, the Paper projects that the broadband subscriber market is expected to increase to 30.1 million by 2013 with its growth expected to touch 8.9%.
It says that the challenge for any service provider is to optimize its network and enhance user experience. For instance, one of the major issues facing broadband networks is the congestion created by peer-to-peer traffic on those networks. Peer-to-peer traffic on a broadband network can be anywhere from 50% to 85%. The networks are not designed for that kind of traffic on which the service providers have no control. This creates an entirely new paradigm for how traffic is generated and controlled on the network.
For broadband to have reach across the country (urban and rural areas), service providers will have to look at various emerging technologies, mainly wireless. Also all available broadband technologies should be promoted by the government.
Another challenge for rural broadband would be to ensure substantial and relevant content for the diversified Indian population, without which the success possibility of broadband in rural areas will continue to be very low.
Government should play a leading role in developing and deploying applications (e-governance, e-education, agricultural services, healthcare services, etc) that could be used by masses, especially in rural areas. Apart from this, service providers should also be encouraged develop rich local content the same way they are encouraged for rural telecom expansion (fixed lien, mobile and broadband) through the USO fund.
The advanced wireless technologies, such as WiMax and 3G, are expected to drive the broadband growth in the country. These technologies have been successful in different parts of the world and India can leverage them to achieve the next level of telecom revolution.
In the short term, the government should release the required spectrum to roll out the WiMax and 3G services as these would help reduce the digital divide and help achieve economic growth through out the country.
The Paper pointed out that in 2006, around 83% broadband subscribers were on DSL technology, with remaining 17% accessing broadband using Cable modem, Ethernet LAN, Fiber and Radio.
Wired technology such as DSL can reach only up to 5 km from the central office and since India does not have a comprehensive wired infrastructure in place, it makes wired broadband an expensive and unrealistic option for rural areas.