Broadband in India: Overview

Among the many areas that India has not invested in is broadband infrastructure. In fact, not only has the government not invested enough through its telecom companies, it also effectively prevented the ISPs from doing anything to bridge the last-mile.

A friend mentioned that TRAI was doing a consultation paper on broadband. I couldn’t help thinking about the pointlessness of the exercise – there was a similar exercise done three years ago. What needs to be done is clear, but there seems to be little interest in doing it.

So, knowing what we know now about our government, what is it that we can ask them to do so we can start creating a thriving ecosystem around broadband? According to me, there are two things – and only two things – that the government should do:

  • Open up the 40+ million wireline local loops owned by BSNL and MTNL lines so that private telecom operators have last mile access to those customers
  • Ensure the 3G and Broadband Wireless spectrum auctions get done in Jan 2010 (we are already many years late with this), and do it in a way that those who lose the auction don’t more the whole allocation in legal tangles. And of course ensure that the winners start using the spectrum won as quickly as possible

Beyond this, it is for the industry to make things happen. There are many ideas and solutions that can come into play for the devices, pipes, services and business models. We will visit those areas in the coming days.

Tomorrow: Devices