Broadband speeds are essential for many reasons, as they play a critical role in our daily lives, personally and professionally. Broadband India Forum (BIF) commended the Government of India's decision to increase the minimum speed for defining Broadband from 512 Kbps to 2 Mbps. This move represents a significant enhancement of minimum data speed, quadrupling the previous rate. Furthermore, this move is consumer-friendly and is expected to increase the overall per capita data consumption while enhancing the service experience.
With its 'mobile-first' approach, India heavily relies on mobile Broadband, with nearly 98% of broadband users accessing the service via mobile phones. The recent increase in minimum broadband speed will significantly enhance the overall quality of service for these users.
BIF said, "This move will particularly benefit consumers in rural areas, suburban areas and fringes of metros who are heavy video consumers and rely more on video and data-rich apps and thus would be a great boon for the aam janata at the bottom of the pyramid."
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"The Government of India's move is especially significant in the current context where both Government and TRAI are concurrently taking up with the concerned operators strongly, the urgent need to improve quality of service provided on mobile," added BIF.
Unfortunately, as many as 45,180 villages in India do not have any 4G coverage, i.e. no mobile broadband.
Moreover, as Aroon Deep laments, "between the villages without any 4G networks whatsoever and the large cities where high speeds are taken for granted, lie the oft-ignored smaller urban settlements struggling with weak connectivity. Such towns, which loose out in the digital divide in a less documented way, may start getting more attention now that the definition of 'broadband' has been upgraded".
BIF also lauded the regulatory authority, TRAI, which, as early as August 2021, had recommended increasing the minimum broadband speed to 2 Mbps, along with several other measures to improve broadband coverage and enhance speed.
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TV Ramachandran, President BIF, shared that "While 2 Mbps may not sound good enough for the modern broadband era as one would need much higher speeds for satisfactory experience in applications viz. telecommuting, file downloading, video conferencing, streaming video - both SD & HD, nevertheless this strong nudge provided by the Government will definitely help ensure improved consumer experience and consumer satisfaction. We are confident that the existing large divide between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' of good internet connectivity will start reducing, thanks to the latest Government action".
"The increase in minimum broadband speed was a long-awaited necessity, especially for the 'Aam Aadmi', especially those in the rural areas, and holds immense significance for a country like India, where the population relies on video consumption to overcome challenges such as cultural and linguistic diversity and literacy levels. Accessing such content requires better broadband speeds, and the Government's mandate to significantly increase the minimum broadband speed is a historic step forward in the public interest and a significant milestone in India's march towards Digital India," says BIF.
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Minimum Broadband Speed
BIF also added, "While this upgradation in minimum broadband speed is indeed a big milestone, India still has a long way to go to catch up with major regimes like the US, where the regulator (FCC) has already prescribed a minimum broadband speed of 25 Mbps."
"Even our neighbour Bangladesh has prescribed a higher minimum broadband speed of 5 Mbps. Moreover, studies have shown that to experience good quality video streaming, one needs to have download speeds much in excess of even 5 Mbps and probably nearer values of 14 Mbps or 15 Mbps."
So consumers and Digital India would be facilitated by working toward such targets and a few more similar steps by the Government in this direction to allow us to reach those goals soon.