The government yesterday announced new broadband policy. The policy would enable direct-to-home (DTH) and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) operators to expand their services.
It also delicensed frequency bands used for Wi-Fi services but did not permit private players to ride on the last mile infrastructure of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd.
What is surprising is that the policy is silent on tax benefits like the reduction of customs duty on broadband equipment and the waiver of sales and service tax for Internet service providers (ISP) which could result in lower prices for broadband users.
According to the sources, the open sky policy for VSAT and DTH operators, which would have enabled them to link directly with any international satellite, would be discussed with other ministries.
The policy targets 20 million broadband subscribers and 40 million Internet subscribers by 2010.
Under the new policy, DTH operators can provide one-way Internet facility as part of the bouquet of services after obtaining an ISP licence. For bi-directional Internet service, a VSAT licence will also be required.
VSAT operators will be allowed to transmit data up to 2 mbps, compared to the earlier restriction of 512 kbps in a closed user group domestic VSAT network.
The policy has also allows BSNL and MTNL to enter into arrangements with private players for utilising the available copper loop and content creation.
The government’s announcement, following approval from the Cabinet on Wednesday, is expected to increase the penetration of broadband services and help BSNL and MTNL provide about two million connections by the end of 2005. Maran expected broadband prices to decrease and estimated 256 kpbs connections to cost Rs 500-800 a month.
The government has decided to delicense the 2.40-2.48 ghz band for low-power outdoor use and 5.15-5.35 ghz band for indoor use of low power Wi-Fi systems.
Several other bands, including the 5.15-5.25 ghz band and the 5.25-5.35 ghz band would be delicensed after consultation with the department of space and after the process of vacation, respectively.
According to the policy, VSAT terminals will not require any approval from the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing, others can start the installation process after one month of submitting all relevant documents to the WPC.
Commercial VSAT service providers with ISP licences will be permitted to use the same hub and remote station.