Ambassador of Buzz
Despite a steep fall in telecom tariffs and the entry of new players like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, India will fall well short of its target of having 3 million broadband subscribers by December-end 2005.
Private and state-owned service providers had 610,000 high-speed Internet connections, compared with the 6.5 million dial-ups at the end of September 2005.
With less than three months to go, the ministry of communications and information technology has now brought its target down, and is hoping to cross the one-million mark -- a third of the broadband policy target of three million connections, set less than 12 months ago.
For consumers, there was reason to cheer on the tariff front. Broadband prices, which were as high as Rs 1,800 a month in January 2004, have now tumbled to Rs 250, and are expected to fall further.
Indian tariffs are also among the lowest broadband tariffs in the world. The charge per MB of download has come down to Re 1 compared with Rs 4 a year ago.
"It can be seen that the rate of growth is not adequate for achieving the broadband policy target of three million subscribers by the end of December 2005, and hence more concerted efforts are required by all service providers," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in its latest report.
BSNL and MTNL executives said progress on providing content-rich services had been slow and that it was the primary reason for the poor growth.
"In a bid to enrich content, we have already invited expressions of interest from content providers on a non-exclusive revenue-share basis, and will follow it up with tenders soon. Our subscribers will have access to Internet protocol and time-shifted television, video-on-demand, voice and interactive messaging, and next-generation gaming before the year-end," a BSNL executive said.
Operators such as Bharti and Reliance Infocomm have also begun test runs of IPTV on broadband speeds of 10 mbps. This is expected to hit the market in six to nine months' time.
For private players, growth has been hampered to a significant extent also by a lack of last-mile copper connectivity.
"The government's threat that the last-mile copper connectivity will be unbundled if BSNL fails to meet stipulated targets is very hollow. They will never resort to any such act and broadband growth will therefore continue to be slow," said the spokesperson of a leading private operator.
Why are they trying to reduce cost now?? If u ask me now they should try to spread it throughout India and broadband must reach even in remote villages.