The New Year will see a lot more activities in the broadband sphere with the Government declaring 2007 as the Year of Broadband.
A K Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL, said, “BSNL would extend its service from 600 towns to 1,000, besides giving 50 lakh additional connections. Out of this, 18.4 lakh connections would be provided in the rural areas, and 31.6 lakh in the urban areas.”
He added, “The download limit for business customers would be increased to 4GB, which would mean benefits up to Rs 2,400 a month. In rural areas, where broadband connection over copper lines is not possible, BSNL will use Wi-Max technology to offer broadband services. Also, plans are afoot to start an online gaming service. Besides, the company has reduced monthly charges for the One India Plan to Rs 1.80 per month, along with 50 free calls.”
The Government has proposed hiking India’s broadband connections to nine million by the end of 2007, an ambitious target considering there are just three million or so broadband connections at present.
Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran expressed that hope that more than a million connections would be added each month once the rural areas began to get connected with technologies such as Wi-Max.
According to Maran, “Broadband connectivity would be widespread by the middle of 2008, following a similar trajectory as mobile phone growth. India is currently adding over six million new subscribers to its mobile phone network every month.”
Rajesh Chharia, President, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), said, “The major hurdle for broadband penetration is the cost factor. Broadband cost consists of 65 per cent of the Internet bandwidth cost, while the rest included the services charges with additional infrastructure charges. At present, due to non-utilisation of NIXI (National Internet Exchange of India) we are a wasting lot of international bandwidth. The main solution for effective use of NIXI is to create more exchange points.”
“By doing this, we can save at least 40 per cent of our international bandwidth, which will help us in meeting the rates of present broadband rates. We also have to bring down domestic bandwidth charges. To increase broadband penetration the Government should exempt broadband connectivity from the 12.24 per cent service tax and this sector should be announced as infrastructure under telecom and should be given income tax rebate of five years under Section 80 (I) so that lot of interested entrepreneur can also come into this industry, resulting in fast growth of this sector,” Chharia further said.