Bandwidth: Frozen in time
India’s data pipes scenario doesn’t look that good in the near-term. The wireline networks are almost entirely dependent on a broke BSNL and a meandering MTNL. As a result, we are not seeing the high-speed networks that should have been ubiquitous by now. By not unbundling the local loop (last mile), the government has forced private players to take the wireless route even for the last mile.
Reliance’s impending entry with their 4G networks will change the game. But it will take a couple years for that to happen at a national level. One would have thought that the existing 3G mobile operators would have fast-tracked moves, but that hasn’t happened. So, with BSNL and MTNL not doing much, RIL’s entry still some time away and the 3G networks not living up to their promise, things aren’t changing much.
Bandwidth remains critical because the Indian Internet usage needs to switch from intermittent to always-on, and from low broadband (sub-1 Mpbs) to real broadband (multi-Mbps). Until that happens, the usage will remain somewhat muted. For applications like multi-player gaming to take off, high-speed networks are critical.