India ponders why just three per cent of its broadband services are wired

India is revisiting how to stimulate more investment in wired broadband.

The nation currently relies on wireless for most of its broadband connections: just 22 million services are wired, compared to 747.41 million wireless connections, so about three per cent. Mobile phones and dongles account for 725 million of the wireless connections.

As noted in a new consultation paper [PDF] published yesterday by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 2020 saw a vast increase in video consumption over Indian networks, either for entertainment or as part of remote collaboration. The Authority assumes that trend will continue post-pandemic, states “fixed-line Broadband is the most reliable medium for video streaming and conferencing applications” and therefore likely to benefit the nation.

The paper therefore sets out a range of policy options to get more fixed-line connections built, with giving carriers a break from licence fees the most-discussed option. Subsidies for subscribers are also suggested. Telcos’ obligations to operate an orderly application process for wired services are also discussed, with questions raised about whether carriers are doing enough.

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Another issue the paper touches on is how to get 5G rolling in India, with access to street furniture as sites for small cells identified as an issue that needs to be better understood if the new standard is to make an impact.

The paper also notes that India has considered how to stimulate wired broadband twice , in 2015 and 2020, and that discussions in those years appear not to have made much progress towards wider provision or adoption of wired connections. Maybe the third time will be the charm? We’ll get some idea of the potential for change from June 3rd, as that’s the deadline to submit comments on the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s paper. The Authority has promised to post comments online and has set a June 10th deadline to receive counter-comments. ®

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