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Govt gears up for big push to broadband

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 20.05.07
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New Delhi, May 20: The government is planning to let broadband operators use the network of telecom PSUs to reach households. It will also release additional spectrum for the service.

Using the network of BSNL and MTNL will help solve the last mile problem.

The last mile, in industry parlance, is the final leg of delivering connectivity. It involves laying of wires and cables, which is an expensive exercise and takes considerable physical effort.

Since the PSUs already have such a network in place, the broadband operators will benefit if they are allowed access to this infrastructure.

A telecom ministry officials said the new minister A. Raja would again take a look at the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the last mile.

Trai had supported the last mile principle to promote broadband, but the proposal was rejected by previous incumbent Dayanidhi Maran “in order to protect BSNL,” the official said. “Even though the vast copper wire and optic fibre network is well spread and expansive in the country, it remains underutilised,” the official added.

The government will also release additional spectrum to facilitate WiMax, which is a form of wireless broadband.

A DoT report says there are problems of frequency in some of the key bands, such as 2.3-2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz.

Analysts said operators would have to wait for a long period before they can launch WiMax.

WiMAX, an acronym that stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a technology for broadband and 3G services over wireless networks at a low cost.

WiMax provides high-speed wireless connectivity and is simpler and cheaper than other mobile technologies. The technology can be used for the remote rural regions.

Trai is working on a WiMax policy. Telecom players such as Reliance Communications, Bharti, Tata Telecom, BSNL and MTNL are all set to roll out the service in a phased manner as soon as they get the permission from the government.

Though it is more efficient than the traditional dial-up system of connecting to the Internet, broadband penetration in India is low compared with other countries.

Only 2.5 per cent of Indian homes has broadband. The figure for China is 14 per cent and Brazil 9 per cent. In Thailand, 3 per cent of the homes has broadband.