State-run telecom operator BSNL has increased the minimum broadband speed to 2 mbps from the existing 512 kbps, reports Press Trust of India. The report adds that BSNL’s customers will get the upgraded speeds at no additional cost.
However, the Economic Times points out that the 2 mbps speed will apply to pre-FUP (Fair Usage Policy) data consumption following which speeds will be throttled to 512 kbps. The 2 mbps speed will be available for 1GB or beyond plans and it will be throttled to 512 kbps after reaching the cap.
The move is part of the operator’s revival plans. In April, BSNL offered free unlimited calling from landlines to anywhere in India (landlines and mobiles). The unlimited calling scheme would work during 9pm and 7am. This service would be applicable for 6 months to check for response and will be reviewed post response. In June, Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced in a press conference that BSNL users would have free roaming on their mobile phones.
It’s worth noting that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) still considers the minimum broadband speed in India as 512 kbps but issued a consultation paper in September 2014 which proposed increasing the minimum speed to 2 mbps. From the paper:
Provide affordable and reliable broadband-on-demand by the year 2015 and to achieve 175 million broadband connections by the year 2017 and 600 million by the year 2020 at minimum 2 mbps download speed and making available higher speeds of at least 100 mbps on demand.
According to the latest numbers from the TRAI, there are 108.85 million broadband subscribers in India and at end of June 2015, BSNL had 18.20 million broadband subscribers (both wireless and fixed wireline).
The top five Wired Broadband Service providers were BSNL (9.91 million), Bharti Airtel (1.47 million), MTNL (1.13 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (0.72 million) and YOU Broadband (0.46 million).
It’s good to hear that BSNL is trying to get back into the game. But come on 2 mbps is too little, too late. A good minimum broadband speed for the country would be 16 mbps . Minimum upload speeds can be at 2 Mbps.
The United States’s FCC in January changed the benchmark for broadband speeds to 25 mbps for downloads from 4 mbps. Upload speeds were increased to 3 mbps from 1 mbps.
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, 20,000 villages have been connected to broadband services under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) plan. NOFN was also to be renamed to BharatNet. The original plan which was to provide 100 mbps connectivity to gram panchayats has been allegedly revised to provide between 2-10 mbps connections. So far, only 8% of the initial target has been achieved in 4 years.