Telecom regulator suggests incentives and measures to increase broadband usage
GN Bureau | April 18, 2015
Telecom regulator has asked the government to conduct spectrum audit for efficient use and also called for exemption of fixed line broadband service from license fee for at least 5 years.
Suggested a series of measures to expedite the roll out of high speed network, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in its recommendation on 'Delivering Broadband Quickly' that the government needs to come out with policy to ease cost burden on telecom companies in laying out underground fibre.
"Cost of laying fibre in some cities is as high as Rs 1.92 crore for a kilometer apart from cost of fiber. The fiber itself costs Rs 65,000 a kilometer. This issue needs to be resolved otherwise who will lay fibre," Trai chairman Rahul Khullar said.
The regulator said India is ranked at 113th in the wireless or mobile broadband segment. As per latest Trai data, there were about 8 crore subscribers using broadband through their mobile phones or dongles.
Khullar said that to push mobile broadband, government needs to either provide more spectrum or audit spectrum held by organization to check if they are efficiently using it.
The regulator has asked the government to take a decision on 700Mhz band — the best spectrum frequency for wireless telecom services so that details of its auction can be worked out.
"Everybody sitting on spectrum should be audited. Spectrum availability in India is 40% compared to foreign countries. When there is scarcity of resource then you either increase supply or use it efficiently," he has said.
Virtually castigating the procrastinating government, the Trai urged for a decision in "no later than 3 months from now" on spectrum sharing and trading guidelines so that there could be efficient use of spectrum.
It has suggested allowing telecom operators to bundle desktops, laptops, tablets and so on with their broadband schemes. "Revenues from such offers ought to be exempted from the applicable license fee at least for a certain number of years (say for three years)."
Other impediments and suggestions:
One reason for poor quality of broadband is non-availability of adequate bandwidth in the backhaul.
Civic authorities have imposed stringent punishment on the erection of towers.
Procurement of satellite capacity on foreign satellites through Department of Space (DoS) often results in long delay and increase in prices due to some process flaws.
BBNL, the organization for implementing National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) project, is a multi-layered structure with the control vesting in the government, the decision making process is stymied by the normal bureaucratic process.
In BBNL, at the delivery and implementation stage, the responsibilities are diffused with far too many executing and supervising agencies.
There is disconnect between the agency and stakeholders. This has practically rendered BBNL dysfunctional, defeating the very purpose for which it was set up - to make independent and quick decisions.
The multi-layered structure for decision making for national project NOFN is just not suitable for a project that needs to be executed in mission-mode. The structure needs immediate overhaul.
Align spectrum bands with globally harmonized bands to achieve interference-free coexistence and economies of scale.
Single-window clearance is an imperative for all (Right of Way) RoW proposals at the level of the states and in the Central Government. All such clearances have to be time-bound so that TSPs and infrastructure providers can move rapidly to project execution.
There is a need for enunciating a national RoW policy to ensure uniformity in costs and processes.
Single-window, time-bound clearance should be encouraged for installation of towers to ensure the rapid development of national networks.
The infrastructure of PSUs is lying unutilized and thus they should be mandated to unbundle their network.
Cable operators should be allowed to function as resellers of ISP license holders to enable them to take advantage of their cable network to provide BB.
Implementation of digitization of cable services to tier 2 and tier 3 cities in a time-bound manner.
Separation of Licensor, Regulator and Operator functions in the satellite space domain to conform to best international practices of free markets.
The issue of coordination of additional spectrum in the 2500-2690 MHz band with DoS needs to be addressed urgently, so that this band can be optimally utilized for commercial as well as strategic purposes.
The Government needs to encourage local and foreign companies to build 'Data Centre Parks' on the lines of industrial parks, SEZs etc. by providing them land, infrastructure and uninterrupted power supply at affordable rates.
Governments, both central and state shall have to act as model users and anchor tenants through delivery of e-government services including e-education, e-governance, m-health, m-banking and other such services.
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