No More “Upto”

broadband2.jpgThe buzz has been around for some time. Thanks to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Internet surfers will heave a sigh of relief. In a recent statement, the TRAI said it has already written to all the service providers not to use words like “up to” while specifying minimum speed of the plan. The service providers have also been asked to bring to the notice of subscribers the definition of broadband while offering high speed internet connections.

“Recently, some expressions have been made for raising the minimum speed for broadband connection from its present level of 256 Kbps so as to bring it at par with the International Standards. There is some impression that large number of countries are having minimum broadband connection speed of more than or equal to 2 Mbps,” the telecom regulator said in its status paper on broadband speed in the country. The minimum speed of connection is expected to be raised from 256 Kbps to 2 Mbps connection.

However, considering high-speed Internet availability in countries like Japan and South Korea, the regulator is of the view that present broadband speed definition in India is “too conservative” and needs an “upward revision”.

The service providers are using words like “up to” to define broadband speed without indicating minimum committed speed. In certain cases packages of Internet speed less than 256 Kbps have also been marketed as broadband connections, TRAI said. This is what has led to a massive problem with the customers complaining regarding the services offered by their respective provider.

Moreover, increasing of the minimum speed for broadband will help in increasing the broadband penetration in the country.

The problem faced with higher speeds?

Many subscribers do not perceive any higher utility attached with such a higher cost value plan. “Broadband connection with higher speed, say 2 Mbps, is therefore less favoured due to higher tariff structure and more importantly due to its lower perceived utility at present,” the TRAI paper said.

While certain applications such as e-mail, voice and video chatting can be supported by a bandwidth of 256 Kbps, real-time applications, involving video and multi-media applications, require much higher bandwidth. It has also pointed out that the available fixed line infrastructure of copper and optic fibre cables is not enough to support high bandwidth broadband connections. “Unless optical fibre cable networks are laid on large scale, it will be difficult to provide high speed Internet access. India is a vast country and geographically it is not very easy to deploy the access network to support higher bandwidth with affordable prices,” TRAI said.

At present, the broadband subscriber base in the country stands at a meagre 2.67 million, compared with the government’s target of 9 million subscribers by the end of the calendar year 2007.

The Internet scenario is due to change in a major way and the day is not far when every other household will be running on a high speed, when we say HIGH, it’ll really be high and for sure above 256kbps.

Ashim Jolly