The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has redefined the minimum broadband speed to 2 mbps from the existing 512 kbps (pdf). According to the agency, higher speeds will lead to more jobs, trigger more innovation, increase competitiveness and increase the GDP by up to 0.3%.
The TRAI was responding to a reference in the Lok Sabha for the redefining the definition of broadband connections. Note that in recommendations dated 8th December 2010 on National Broadband Plan, the authority had recommended 2 mbps as the minimum broadband speed from the 1st of January 2015, although this doesn’t seem to have taken effect.
Note that it’s not clear if the 2mbps speed will apply to pre-FUP (Fair Usage Policy) data consumption following which speeds will be throttled. Even if that is not the case, 2 mbps is too slow and as we have said before, a good minimum broadband speed for the country would be 16 mbps. Minimum upload speeds can be at 2 mbps.
The other issue, which we had highlighted last year, is that of fair usage policies themselves. Telecom operators in India still use the term unlimited for plans that throttle user speeds post reaching a certain limit or charge them extra for full speeds. Airtel, for example, states that a “service provider should be free to throttle the speed to 64kbps after the expiry of assigned data limit to the customer”. The TRAI must step up and fix both, the broadband speeds and the low limit fair usage policies.
MediaNama’s take: The condition of internet access in India is already pretty abysmal. In March, Akamai’s report on the internet speeds from around the world ranked India a lowly 114th internationally, and slowest in APAC, in terms of average internet speeds. We’ve got to ask more out of the Digital India programme. Basic speeds and infrastructure is paramount to its success. Consider this: as of April last year, 20,000 villages have been connected to broadband services under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) plan. The original plan which was to provide 100 mbps connectivity to gram panchayats has been allegedly revised to provide between 2-10 mbps connections. Only 8% of the initial target had been achieved in 4 years.