India’s telecommunication regulator, TRAI reveals that the largest South Asian country, India is behind its neighbors, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan in terms of broadband penetration. This comparison shows India’s poor performance to deliver information technology services to its citizens. Though the country has been successful in creating and posing itself as a pioneer in computer software technologies, government authorities, including politicians had failed to take a serious approach to lift the living standards of the people.
While many of the developing countries take broadband as an essential utility for its citizens, Indian telecommunication planner have yet to take measures to deliver broadband services to its common mass. India is ranked below Bhutan and Sri Lanka in terms of broadband penetration and the multi-layered structure involved in the decision making for the sector needs to be overhauled.
India ranks 125th in the world for fixed broadband penetration, while its neighbors such as Bhutan and Sri Lanka are ahead. India needs to seriously think about it. To promote the use of fixed-line broadband, TRAI also proposed that the license fee on the revenues earned from the fixed line should be exempted for 5 years.
In the wireless or mobile broadband segment, India is ranked at 113th with a penetration of 3.2 per 100 inhabitants. The regulator also suggested the need to revamp government bodies involved in decision making that impact spread of broadband including that of Wireless Planning Commission (WPC) — custodian of the spectrum at Department of Telecom.
TRAI said WPC should be converted into an independent body by de-linking it from DoT and suggested that it can be converted into a statutory body reporting to Parliament or any other existing statutory body. The regulator has said that multi-layered structure for decision making, for National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), is not suitable and structure needs an immediate overhaul.
NOFN project aims to spread broadband across 250,000 villages by the end of 2016 but has missed its target of completing roll out in first 50,000 administrative units called Panchayats in India, by March 2015. The regulator has also called for an audit of spectrum held by all the bodies including public sector companies and government organization to check if it is being used efficiently.
The regulator said present usage of spectrum available with government agencies should be reviewed, starting within 6 months, so as to identify the possible areas where spectrum can be reformed for efficient use. TRAI expressed concern on government delaying guidelines on spectrum trading and sharing saying that it is strongly urged that a decision is taken no later than 3 months from now.
Authorities also thinking to recommend to use the cable operators for the spread of broadband. It is recommended that the cable operators should be allowed to function as resellers of internet service provider license and digitization of cable services should be implemented in tier 2 and 3 cities in a time-bound manner. TRAI said that the government needs to encourage local and foreign companies to build data center parks on the lines of industrial parks and SEZs.