“The government is all set to cut off Bangalore from the Internet”, writes OneIndia.in Founder & MD BG Mahesh, citing a Bangalore Mirror report which suggests that the city’s local municipal body Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is set to cut off a majority of the optical fibre cable network, claiming that only 5,000 km of 25,000 is ‘authorized’. Starting today, reports the Times of India, it will begin disconnecting cables. There are 18 ISPs within BBMP’s jurisdiction, and the civic body wants a rental of Rs 120 per meter of OFC per month. The Times of India cites a Karnataka High Court directive, asking BBMP to disconnect unauthorized OFC connections and levy fee upon the authorized ones.
While illegal laying of OFC cables can not be lauded, perhaps the government needs to take a look at its own policies and practices: state governments and the central government have failed to give broadband connectivity a push, and it is strange that the state government plans t0 disconnect fibre comes at a time when the central government is looking to spend Rs 20,000 crore on the National Broadband Plan.
This is also at a time when seven states in India – including Karnataka (of which Bangalore is the capital), have reported a decline in the number of broadband connections.
At the core of the issue is that governments and civic bodies tend to look at infrastructure laying as a source of revenue rather than their responsibility; a statement in the Times of India reads: “when telecom companies collect monthly rent for the services they provide, why can’t we?” In the meantime, the last mile connectivity in India has still not been unbundled, and when it comes to wireless, the government pawned off its broadband responsibility in the auctions last year to finance a burgeoning fiscal deficit.
It doesn’t appear as if ISPs have much choice, and the strong-arm tactic of threatening to disconnect companies might result in an increase in cost of broadband connectivity.
Corrigendum: this article incorrectly mentioned BG Mahesh’s designation as CEO. He is the Founder and MD of OneIndia.in