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Digital cable can provide 500m people with broadband: TRAI

Satellite can deliver broadband in select areas, but this requires policy changes

India's TRAI Chairman R S Sharma says 500 million people can be provided broadband connectivity in a short span of time by leveraging the already available digital cable TV network.

"We have made a number of recommendation and our recommendations if followed could transform our ranking which is abysmally low," Sharma said at the Skoch Summit.

Some 100 million homes in India are connected to digital cable TV; further investments in upgradation of cable lines can boost this number considerably.

TRAI has sent recommendations in this regard to the Department of Telecom and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Government under National Telecom Policy 2012 has set a target to connect 600 million people by the year 2020 at minimum 2Mbps download speed.

It is shortage of fixed line infrastructure that has led to a crunch in bandwidth, because most people are connected via mobile phones, Sharma said. "Robust bandwidth usage is not done while moving. Mobile wireless can never be reliable. It is not very robust," he added.

Satellite can boost broadband if policy changes

In the Telecom Policy of 2012, an open sky policy was declared whereby satellite bandwidth could be "available in a very free market manner. Unfortunately, it remains clogged with the Department of Space. Antrix Corporation has canalised this entire bandwidth provision," Sharma said.

As a result, India gets connectivity bandwidth from satellites at a very high rate. "Satellite connectivity is needed in areas where we can't lay optic fibre, like Jammu and Kashmir, and North East. A policy change will make satellite bandwidth available in a free market manner. It should be another way to increase the supply of broadband in our country," he added.

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