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Internet service gets link boost

New Delhi, March 19: The telecom regulator today removed a major hurdle for internet service providers (ISPs) by permitting them to use any medium, including copper wire, optic fibre and radio to establish the last-mile connectivity.

In a note to the department of telecommunications (DoT), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) recommended technology neutrality in last-mile links for ISPs, which will enable them to offer high speed internet and broadband services to customers.

Amitabh Singhal, president of Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), said: “This was a long-standing issue pending with ISPs. Radio regulations in the country were not feasible to use by ISPs. The use of copper for the last mile was the practical media to reach out in the areas where ISPs have not be able to reach till now.”

“Radio has its own limitation like spectrum approvals and high costs, even in urban areas. Fibre is also an expensive combination. Copper is easily available and if ISPs are not able to do it through the cable operators it can be done by ISPs themselves,” said Singhal.

The ISP licence agreement allows ISPs to use optic fibre and radio in the last mile but does not explicitly mention copper cable. DSL is one of the most popular technologies for providing high-speed internet access.

Currently, ISPs need to obtain copper loop from the incumbent operators and other basic service operators for this purpose.

If the ISPs wish to establish their own last mile on copper cable in case of non-availability of such capacities from basic telephone service providers and other service providers, they need to seek permission from the DoT. This involves a difficult and time-consuming process since this is allowed on a case-to-case basis, which delays the provision of high speed internet service by ISPs to their customers.

The regulator has pointed out that if accepted this would encourage faster provision of high-speed internet services (broadband) by stand-alone ISPs.

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