Broadband in India

Published: 20 Jul 2007

Today, a country’s stage of development is measured by the Telecom, PC and Internet penetration it has. India has been focusing on establishing itself as a knowledge-based society and has seen rapid growth in telecom penetration all across the country; yet the Internet and broadband penetration is significantly low. For a knowledge-based society to grow quickly and for various economic opportunities to become a reality, the spread of Internet and broadband is now being given top priority.

India has embraced the Internet with a degree of ambivalence. There is tremendous enthusiasm among the dial-up users and an estimated 60 percent of users regularly access the Internet through cybercafés. However, when it comes to high-speed broadband access, there is reluctance, and the rate of adoption has been slow. By the end of 2006, there were 2.1 million broadband subscribers – a penetration of less than 0.2 percent.

After the Broadband policy was unveiled in 2004, customers have realized that there are alternatives to the copper infrastructure of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL). Operators such as VSNL Broadband Limited and Reliance Communications Limited have built a strong fiber optic backbone, and depending on the availability they offer multiple last mile choices to the end user. Unbundling of local loop could become meaningless in this current scenario. However, it is still required to promote a higher growth rate. The biggest problem is reaching the customer's premises from the Point of Presence (PoP) and laying down fresh infrastructure, which can turn out to be an expensive proposition.

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