The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued guidelines to improve the quality of broadband services in the country by specifying several norms related to the contention ratio, that is, the number of subscribers that can be packed into a single unit of bandwidth.
According to the TRAI recommendations, Internet Service Providers (ISP) should ensure that for the broadband services only 50 subscribers are accommodated in a single unit of bandwidth. For corporate subscribers, TRAI has prescribed a maximum of 30 users. TRAI expects the service providers to provide even better service than prescribed. “There have been complaints from the subscribers regarding inadequate broadband speed being provided by the Internet Service Providers. Most of the complaints allege that the available broadband speed is lower than the subscribed speed,” the regulator said.
The recommendations are aimed at ensuring that subscribers get the speeds for which they have sought the connection. As a result, TRAI has also recommended that the service providers should keep the subscribers informed about the contention ratios and other service related issues so that they are able to take informed decisions.
Internet technology permits use of bandwidth by several users simultaneously. The number of users which can share the given bandwidth without impacting the quality of service depends on the applications, frequency of use and many other parameters. This leverage allows ISPs to accommodate more subscribers using the given bandwidth, and this will also reduce cost of the access. The ratio of number of subscribers per unit of bandwidth is commonly known as contention ratio and it may vary depending on the quality of service the ISP is planning to offer. The higher the ratio, the more will be the congestion levels.
TRAI has, however, not made it mandatory for the operators to follow the prescribed norms and, therefore, has stated that, “Any regulatory burden in the present economic environment of Internet sector may increase the cost of service provisioning and will adversely impact the growth of broadband. The Authority prefers least regulatory intervention while providing
greater flexibility to service providers to ensure better quality of
service to Internet/ broadband subscribers.”