Industry think tank BIF has said a revision of broadband definition and speeds in India are long overdue and that it should be reviewed and upgraded to 2 Mbps from current 512 kbps which is “dismally low”.
The Broadband India Forum (BIF) has said communications technology has transformed radically over the past years and entirely new markets for data services have emerged across the nation. Numerous modern internet applications and use cases now require higher speeds than prescribed by the current definition, it said.
“It is our view that since the current definition of broadband captures neither the development of the technology nor the Indian consumers’ appetite for high speed broadband services, it must be reviewed and redefined,” the BIF said in its submission to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
The submissions form part of BIF’s response to the regulator’s consultation paper on ‘road map to promote broadband connectivity and enhanced broadband speed’.
Trai had floated the discussion paper to seek stakeholder views on various issues including whether existing definition of broadband need to be reviewed along with threshold download and upload speeds; possibility of defining different categories of broadband depending on speeds; need for speed measurement programmes in the country amongst others.
When contacted, BIF President T V Ramachandran said that current definition of broadband in India at 512 kbps is dismally low, and the upgrade to 2 Mbps for the same is long overdue, even as per the national policy mandates, apart from the global benchmarks.
According to the BIF, the broadband speeds in India, even post the introduction of 4G, are less than half of the global good practices.
In its written response to the regulator, the BIF suggested that a network must comply with the requirement to provide 2 Mbps download and upload speeds to be considered a broadband connection, regardless of the medium or technology used to deliver the service.
Different categories of broadband such as ‘Basic, Fast, and Ultra-Fast’ would help set optional thresholds that can serve distinct use cases, it said.
Reviews must also be conducted periodically to keep pace with the development of access services and customer expectations, the BIF added.
“We also recommend the creation of additional tiers that represent increasing levels of quality and enhance transparency in the provision of services, but are entirely optional for service providers to guarantee,” the BIF has said.
Connectivity, faster than the 2 Mbps standard is now a “mainstream requirement” in the market for internet access.
It further recommended that Trai provide additional guidelines for higher quality broadband services, as the industry body mooted minimum downlink and uplink speed of 15 Mbps to define ‘fast broadband’, and 30 Mbps for ‘ultra-fast broadband’.
However, it added in the same breath that these could be just guidelines to help the customer have a uniform and valid comparison between offerings.
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