Broadband is vital, give it due recognition: Sunil Mittal, Anil Ambani

Broadband is vital, give it due recognition: Sunil Mittal, Anil Ambani

New Delhi: Two top telecom companies Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications on Tuesday asked the government to give due recognition to broadband which can bring in the next telecom revolution, with 3G also coming into the picture.

“We are at the cusp of moving from voice communications to broadband communications. Broadband holds the key for rural and urban (market)... it (broadband) must be given due recognition at par with road, electricity and water infrastructure for the benefit of our industry," Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal said here.

Echoing his view, Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani said, “Data is at the root of convergence."

According to telecom regulator Trai’s report, penetration of internet and broadband has remained low in the country, mainly due to a limited spread of wire line telephones and non availability, so far, of broadband technologies.

A number of broadband subscribers at the end of March 2005 was 0.18 million and it increased to 12.12 million at the end of May 2011.

With the launch of 3G services, the stage is set for rapid spread of broadband. At the same time, there is an urgent need for a nationwide broadband network to reach education, healthcare, banking and other services to all the in realising the objective of inclusive growth.

“Today, we are again standing at an important juncture. Telecom industry is facing some large tectonic shift. I have never been so cautious and so confused about this sector," Mittal said.

Recently, the Indian telecom sector which contributes nearly 2% of the total GDP of the economy is in limelight for all wrong reasons related to 2G spectrum allocation under former telecom minister A Raja. The matter is still under subjudice.

“I would say that the telecom industry would seize. Somebody has to take care of this sector. We are all awaiting eagerly for the New Telecom Policy-2011 for moving ahead 10 to 15 years," Mittal added.

Going forward, Mittal said that any regulations must protect citizen and customers from harmful practices, regulator must seek the least regulatory mechanism to deal with the industry.

Further, government and the regulator must have a balanced approach and spectrum allocation in the future must be liberal and judicious, he said.