The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will soon come out with recommendations on broadband aimed at enhancing speed from the minimum 512 kbps to up to 2 Mbps and for Right of Way (RoW) that will pave way for laying down the optical fibre network at the level of FTTH (fibre to the home).
A Trai official told FE that the regulator is currently working on framing its recommendations on RoW for telecom services which will help in laying the optic fibre for wireline services like broadband, FTTH services connecting every home with the optic fibre network, which would eventually minimise reliance on deficient spectrum, largely used for mobile services.
“The penetration of optical fibre in last mile connectivity —that is the consumer — is very poor and so we are largely dependent on wireless services. We want the central government to work out norms where RoW is offered at a reasonable cost to telecom companies and state governments and civic bodies do not create hurdles in developing the optic fibre network,” the official explained.
India has one of the lowest networks of optic fibre when compared to China or even Brazil. Trai feels that National Optic Fibre Network (NoFN) project that will link 2.5 villages with broadband services and create an additional 10 lakh km of additional optic fibre network will still be very short for a huge country like India with 125 crore population to offer quality telecom services.
According to National Telecom Policy 2012, Indian telecom companies must provide a speed of 2 mbps for broadband subscribers by 2015 from the current 512 kbps. The department of telecommunications (DoT) had last July notified the minimum broadband speed by changing the new definition of broadband by raising the broadband speed to 512 kilobytes per second (kbps) from the earlier 256 kbps.
Accordingly, the new definition of broadband is “a data connection that is able to support interactive services, including internet access, and has the capability of minimum download speed of 512 kbps to an individual subscriber from the point of presence of the service provider intending to provide broadband service”. “Now we don’t need to change the definition of broadband. The choice must be left to the consumers. But what we would like is that the broadband consumer get quality and speed on demand and is affordable as well,” said Trai. In July, 2009, Trai had recommended that DoT should make it mandatory for broadband speed to be 2 mbps.
Although telecom service providers have gathered additional spectrum in their kitty from the auctioning of airwaves in the recently held auction, the telecom regulator is of the view that spectrum available is not sufficient to offer decent services and speed for mobile internet services and broadband.
Trai’s new recommendations will also suggest ways and methods to streamline and upgrade the network like the base transceiver station — also called mobile towers — through which telecom services are offered.
The backhaul network needs to be upgraded by telcos to offer decent wireless services. For this, telcos will either have to put in additional BTS towers or upgrade each tower which would cost them at least Rs 1,00,000, which telcos do not want to spend as by doing so they will have to spend a huge amount of money.
Trai said telecom companies still need lot more spectrum to meet the current demand for mobile data services. For this they need to add more BTS towers. “The best bet is to strengthen the optic fibre network which will cut down reliance on the wireless network which runs on scarce spectrum,” said an official with the telecom ministry.