Two years back the groundbreaking National Telecom Policy 2012 was made which was set to transform telecommunications in India for new digital era. While the government managed to implement some of the recommendations, most of them are still just on paper. One of the key recommendations of the policy was to increase minimum broadband speed to 512kbps and subsequently to 2 Mbps by January 1st 2015.
National Telecom Policy 2012
The National Telecom Policy 2012 was set to replace more than 12 years old telecom regulations and was approved by the Union Cabinet on May 31, 2012. Its vision was, “to provide secure, reliable, affordable and high quality converged telecommunication services anytime, anywhere for an accelerated inclusive socio-economic development”.
Lets take a look into key recommendations and its current status of implementation.
• “’Broadband For All” at a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps – Broadband speed increased to 512kbps
• Domestic Manufacturing- Making India a global hub – Now part of Make in India Campaign.
• Liberalisation of Spectrum- any Service in any Technology – Implemented
• Unified Licensing, delinking of Spectrum from License, – Implemented
• One Nation – Full Mobile Number Portability and work towards One Nation – Free Roaming – Pending
• Voice over Internet Protocol, Cloud Computing, Next Generation Network including IPV6 – Pending
• 175 million broadband connections by 2017 and 600 million 2020 – 79.21 million as of October 2014
• Allow trading, sharing, pooling of spectrum – Pending
Minimum broadband Speed
The policy pointed out broadband speed in India was very low at 256kbps and recommended to revise it to 512 Kbps by the end of 2012 and subsequently to 2 Mbps by 2015, with higher speeds of at least 100 Mbps on demand. After long delays TRAI redefined broadband as data connection providing minimum 512 kbps speed. This resulted in revision of existing unlimited broadband plans by ISP to minimum 512Kbps even for post FUP usage.
Now coming to 2 Mbps download speed which should be implemented by 1st January 2015. As of now there is no word on the progress or any plans to implement it any time soon. ISPs will oppose this move as they just moved to 512 kbps and moving towards 2 Mbps will cost huge overhead. In short 2Mbps minimum broadband speed will get further delayed, like other NTP 2012 recommendations.
Consumer point of view
Average broadband speed in India is at 1.7 Mbps which ranks India 114th globally. Unlimited broadband plans are still expensive and throttled by FUP. Recently many cable broadband service providers across the country upgraded their network to up to 50 to 100 Mbps speed, but with FUP on most plans. Reliance Jio preview website showed a glimpse of its plans to provide 100Mbps through fiber to home which was also promising.
In this digital age we require at least 10Mbps connection to stream HD videos from Youtube/Facebook. 2Mbps minimum broadband speed will give an interim relief for consumers frustrated with FUP on unlimited plans. But may also cause a tariff hike or complete withdrawal of lower speed plans by ISP.
Government is pushing hard towards digital India with National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) across all 2.5 lakh village panchayats set to be completed by December 2016. This is expected to provide up to 100Mbps speed to gram panchayat. This would eventually increase broadband speed in the country. But in order to fully achieve digital India goals, government would eventually has to implement minimum 2 Mbps or more broadband speed.
Do you think government will fulfill the promise of 2mbps minimum broadband speed by 1st January 2015? Do let us know via comments.
An IT professional who has got great passion for telecom. Has been closely watching Indian telecom space since 2009.