Broadband data worth around Rs 1,920 crore does not find any takers every year due to lack of adequate resources for its utilisation even as a substantial part of the country especially in the hilly and North Eastern states struggle for mobile and data connectivity. In a country such as India that has significantly large stretches lying in remote and inaccessible areas, this wasted data, through the use of latest technology, can help fill the gap between the digital haves and the have-nots, Broadband India Forum’s (BIF) president TV Ramachandran told FE.
Technologies such as satellite communications (SatCom) can play a crucial role in the government’s ambitious Digital India programme by connecting and delivering broadband to all these inaccessible and remote areas in the country, he added.“Just imagine that around 3.2 million GB of data is wasted every month. Now, today the average data rate is around Rs 50 a GB. You do the math on it for a year and the figures are mind boggling,” Ramachandran said.India is a huge country and its size calls for the use of SatCom for transmitting data. The country has a total of around 124 satellites, all owned by the government, and of which only 28 are currently used for SatCom, which too is related to government work.
“We need to allow SatCom based commercial operations as it will give a boost to data penetration. Regrettably due to certain factors, there is a mistaken perception that SatCom is unaffordable and therefore unavailable for deployment for a highly price sensitive market such as India. Here the Departments of Space and Telecom as well as the regulator Trai should come together to work on use of SatCom for commercial purposes,” he said. MeitY secretary Aruna Sundararajan, who also holds the additional charge for the Department of Telecom, said, “The government is aware of the opportunities presented by SatCom and we hope to hear some positive news very soon”.
In an event, organised by BIF, to celebrate the World Telecom and Information Society Day 2017, former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh, who is also the chairman Emeritus of BIF, said that the use of satellites to provide internet services is perhaps the only way to cover the entire country. BIF has conservatively projected that India’s requirement of broadband over satellite is in the range of 100-200 Gbps over the next 5-10 years. Besides, liberalising the implementation and facilitation of the latest innovations in this sector to cater to this projected demand, can enable a FDI of $3-5 billion. This will be for the launch of satellites, developing and manufacturing satellite gateways (ground terminals) and also for the manufacture of end-user terminals (micro-VSATs, satellite handhelds, etc).
Rishi Ranjan Kala