Govt target for broadband network unrealistic: Rahul Khullar

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December 19, 2014 1:41 AM

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Rahul Khullar on Thursday said the target set by the new government...

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Rahul Khullar on Thursday said the target set by the new government for providing broadband network was unrealistic and called for evaluating it. “Why must we set an ambitious target? We need to work on such targets.  If you set an impossible target you have to work on loopholes, only then can you achieve it. There is not going to be a broadband  network until there is an access network,” he said at a conference titled “India- Broadband for All”.

As part of Digital India project conceived by the Narendra Modi government , the government has set a target of providing broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh villages (according to the 2011 Census, India has about 6.41 lakh villages) and making as many schools Wi-Fi enabled by 2019. Currently, there are 16 million broadband users as on date.

India has missed its broadband targets earlier and may continue to miss new targets because of less participation from private players and lack of efficiency of government companies. The telecom ministry does not even know how to encourage private players to invest in rural and urban broadband, Khullar said. He added that there was lack of clarity on e-governance initiatives, because for this norms have to be eased by the government which seems unlikely as of now. “Why are we not talking about sharing and trading of spectrum?” he pointed out, hinting at lack of spectrum availability among telcos.

FE on December 9 reported that the department of telecommunications (DoT) expected to come up with final guidelines on trading, sharing, merger and acquisition of spectrum only next year, once the proposed auction in February has taken place.

This is in contrast to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s recent assertion that norms would be finalised by the year end. The government feels that if guidelines are notified before the auctions, operators may not bid aggressively, thus impacting revenues. Khullar also came down heavily on the lack of innovation in government organizations

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