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India Reclassifies Broadband As 512kbps, 6 Yrs After Dayanidhi Maran Wanted 2mbps

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A notification from the India’s Department of Telecommunications on 18th July 2013 reclassified the term ‘Broadband’ as referring to connections that have the capability of a minimum download speed of 512kbps, the telecom regulator TRAI’s monthly telecom subscribers report mentions, stating that as per the notification:

“Broadband is a data connection that is able to support interactive services including Internet access and has the capability of the minimum download speed of 512 Kbps to an individual subscriber from the point of presence (PoP) of the service provider intending to provide broadband service”.

Accordingly, the TRAI has said that as per its classification, the minimum download speed has been increased from 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps, and from this October 2013 onwards, service providers have to report only those wireline Internet subscribers with at least 512kbps as ‘broadband’.

Consequently, the number of broadband connections in India has come down to 14.91 million connections (the rest are classified as “Internet” connections). In May 2013, India had 15.3 million broadband connections, but that was as per the old definition, and would have included connections between 256kbps and 512kbps. Note that the 14.91 million connections number is on the basis of data from 105 of 153 ISPs, with old data being used for 48 ISPs.

Not enough: Dayanidhi Maran Had Wanted Broadband = 2mbps in 2007

We’d like to remind the Department of Telecommunications, and recent ministers A. Raja, Kapil Sibal and Milind Deora, what utter failures they have been when it comes to enabling the growth of wireline broadband in this country.


It makes me feel old say this, but does anyone remember Dayanidhi Maran, and his tenure as Telecom Minister?

Back in 2007, Maran had wanted to reclassify broadband as 2 mbps*, and talked about using BSNL to change the benchmarks, in order to force private players to follow suit. Maran left the government after that, and was replaced by A. Raja. The rest is history: in terms of the 2G scam, the Aakash Tablet. We’re still waiting for the completion of the rollout of broadband to villages, which Maran, in 2007 had said, had the following targets:

Broadband connectivity to one lakhs Community Service Centres (CSC) covering 20,000 CSCs by ADSL by September 2007; 1000 blocks by wireless broadband by December 2007 and the remaining 5000 blocks by wireless broadband with USO support by June 2008 would be provided

The plan in 2007 was to try for 20 million wireline broadband connections by 2010, a target which the Indian government has failed to meet even three years later: Today, BSNL (with 66.8% of the broadband market) no longer sets the benchmarks, Airtel (the second largest ISP, with 8.8% of the broadband market) tries to maximize revenue using data caps (calling it “Fair Usage”).

While I’m not saying that Maran might not have had his faults (I only started covering this sector towards the end of his tenure), as a minister, he set the tone for the industry to follow, and his strategy of pushing BSNL to change the benchmarks was a great way to push private players to follow.

Today, India’s only policy on increasing broadband penetration in the country appears to be a plan to take optical fibre to villages, which it has been taking about since 2007, and while no sops appear to exist for ISP’s in the urban and semi urban market.

*Note: That appears to be a truncated version of my post at Paidcontent.org. I left ContentSutra (now merged into Paidcontent.org) to start MediaNama in 2008.

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  • Sundakka

    Even NTP 2012 (Kapil Sibal flashed this in some press conf IIRC) mentioned 2 Mbps. 2 Mbps is taken from ITU’s definition of broadband. But it looks like the operators had a hard bargain and brought it down to 512 Kbps because they are not interested in spending money to upgrade infra as they feel 4G / BWA / FTTH will sweep away ADSL out. The problem is BSNL / Airtel are uninterested and the other players are too small to lobby for postive change. FTTH players like ACT / Beam have no real incentive in policy direction (512 Kbps / 2 Mbps) as it doesn’t impact their bottom line as they start upwards of 10 Mbps. This notification only hit the nails on the coffin of ADSL providers as they are happy to become extinct and quit the race.

    512 Kbps is Internet’s 28 Rs ABPL. They had to keep it low to show growth as real growth didn’t happen and the govt too had an incentive to keep the standard low as it had a more than fair share for telecom / Internet mess in the country.

    I have already moved to 3G (MTNL have decent plans which can give broadband run for money both in FUP / speeds if you live near tower) and its about time fixed line becomes extinct even on Internet unless its FTTH (With speeds starting at 10 Mbps upto 100 Mbps).

  • My BSNL connection that costs me Rs. 2500 per month still drops down to 256kbps. At least Airtel has started switching to 512kbps in some circles on all of their plans.

  • Will Airtel increase FUP post usage base speed from 256 to 512?

  • Malik Junaid

    Bsnl giving very worst service, speed of my 512kbps plan is 256 only..
    I hope they would do something for it..

  • sameer jain

    512 kbps is broadband? wtf? go to usa there minimum speed starts from 21 mbps

  • Anonymous
  • Dilkash Rai Malhotra

    Ludicrous….how about making 4G work first…..er…..or is it 3G first?

  • josedoad

    FUP is worse than corruption