Trai seeks answers to increase broadband connectivity, ramp up speeds

The regulator has fixed September 21 as the last date for comments, and October 5 for counter-comments
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday invited public views for defining broadband speed in various categories for both mobile as well as fixed-line services, and sought suggestions on ways to increase speed.

A consultation paper by Trai follows a request from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) with the aim to promote broadband connectivity in the country and figure out measures to be taken to enhance broadband speed as envisaged in the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018.

“In essence, it appears that DoT is seeking the authority’s recommendations on defining fixed and mobile broadband, innovative approaches for infrastructure creation, promoting broadband connectivity, and measures to be taken for enhancing broadband speed,” Trai said in its consultation paper.

The regulator has fixed September 21 as the last date for comments, and October 5 for counter-comments.

The NDCP 2018 set a target to provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 megabits per second (mbps) to every citizen, 1 gigabits (gbps) connectivity to all gram panchayats of India by 2020, and 10 gbps by 2022.

The policy target set under NDCP 2018 includes facilitation of 100 mbps broadband-on-demand to all key development institutions, including educational institutes, enabling fixed-line broadband access to 50 per cent households, and deployment of 5 million public WiFi hotspots by 2020 and 10 million by 2022.

Trai said that during the past five-six years, it has issued several recommendations to the government on broadband-related issues.

Some of them are still under government consideration. Many new strategies have been identified in the NDCP 2018. Such strategies need to be converted into actionable points, the regulator said, adding, it has recommended that from January 1, 2015, the minimum download speed for broadband be revised to 2 mbps, but this recommendation has not been implemented by the government.

The regulator has recommended the Union government to set up a public WiFi network. Despite significant progress in the space of mobile broadband, delivering reliable and affordable broadband services in dense urban areas, inside buildings, and rural and remote areas remains a challenge. Lack of ubiquitous high-speed and reliable broadband connectivity not only adversely affects Digital India, it also reduces the productivity of individuals and enterprises.

“In achieving the average 50-mbps broadband speed objective of NDCP 2018, there could be many bottlenecks in the internet space in the country that need to be identified and addressed,” said Trai.

Some of those could be related to capacity and congestion in access and core networks, quality of devices being used to access internet, availability, and efficient utilisation of available spectrum for delivering broadband services.

It could also be related to unavailability or restricted availability of locally hosted content, and switching of internet traffic, said the regulator.

It has also sought views on whether the existing Right of Way Rules, 2016, for rolling out telecom networks in the field has been effective and changes required to make it more effective

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