Airtel, in a reply to TRAI’s draft paper on FUP policy, rejects the direction of ensuring 512kbps as minimum broadband speed for both mobile and fixed line subscribers. Airtel also states in the letter addressed to TRAI that a “service provider should be free to throttle the speed to 64kbps after the expiry of assigned data limit to the customer”.
The letter further opines ‘that there cannot be any mandate for providing minimum speed’ for customer who have chosen a limited plan, since ‘only a fixed data quota is provided in case of limited plans’.
Airtel adds that in case the subscriber chooses a Fair Usage Plan, the subscriber is ‘no longer treated as a broadband subscriber’, once the customer passes the assigned data quota. “Hence a service provider should be free to throttle the speed to 64kbps after the expiry of assigned data limit to the customer”.
Airtel’s demand will literally take us back in time to the age of dial up modems. Here’s a little reminder of how that felt.
While, Clause 4(c) of the TRAI’s paper on FUP policy states: “ensure that download speed of broadband service provided to the fixed broadband subscriber is not reduced below 512 kbps in any broadband tariff plan”.
‘Customer might misuse the minimum broadband provision’
Airtel also states in the same letter that some customers could misuse the minimum broadband speed provision and ‘tend to overuse the data limit in their quota’. It also adds that the cost to provide broadband to each customer will increase if the minimum speed is set at 512 kbps.
“Therefore, if broadband has to become affordable in the country, ideally, the Authority should not mandate any broadband speed after exhaustion of quota. However, if the Authority wants to fix a speed limit is after the expiry of quota, it may be fixed at 64kbps” adds the letter.
MediaNama reported earlier that almost all internet service provider imposes an FUP without full disclosure, and at times even advertising it as unlimited plans. The draft policy on FUP by the TRAI aims to stop telecom operators from misleading customers with FUP plans marketed as unlimited internet plans.
India’s abysmal broadband speeds
A report from Akamai Technologies reveals that the standards of internet access in India is falling as the country ranks second worst in Asia-Pacific with an average connection speed of 2.3mbps. Akamai’s definition of broadband internet on the other hand, is internet connections with speeds above 4 Mbps. In Q1 2015, India had 9.9% connections above the 4 Mbps threshold.
Our broadband coverage here