The Indian Government will own and operate a countrywide broadband network with an optical fibre base and make it available to different operators to provide a range of services, Indian Minister of State for Communications and IT, Milind Deora announced Friday at the 8th Broadband Tech India Conference here.
"Keeping future users of this network in mind this will to be a non-discriminatory access to all types of information and services" Deora told. "This network would be the way governance will be delivered to the whole nation" reaching out to the last village, he added. The Minister recalled how several countries were supporting optical fibre and wireless broadband networks to reach out to everyone. The Minister termed this project as "unprecedented" in its reach and its vision.
The money for setting up this network would come from the Universal Service Fund to which all telecom operators are contributing a part of their revenues. This would be a high speed network in which Government would partner with telecom industry to plan an entire eco system "that will really transform the country".
The state owned telecom provider, BSNL that would be implementing this plan expects approximately 50 to 60 per cent of government services in the country through broadband and mobile services said chairman and managing director R. K. Upadhyay. The national broadband policy projects broadband on demand by 2015 and get 600 million people using the service by 2020. Roll out of 3G telecom services would lead to additional revenue of about Rs. 9 billion to over 2010-2015 for the IT and BPO industry, he added.
Giving a broad view of what fixed line and wireless broadband (3G) could do Mr. Upadhyay told the conference that revenue from 3G related data services for other VAS value chain players would reach Rs 36 billion in 2015. Equipment manufacturers would have a market of Rs. 165 billion by 2015 growing at a huge CAGR of 72 per cent. However content development and lower prices of 3G enabled handsets would be crucial in achieving these expectations.
For the broadband revolution to happen, government intervention and support was critical, said industry analyst Kunal Bajaj, managing director, Analysys Mason India. Such support would push the reach to 50 to 60 per cent of urban users and only then would it be viable for the economy of use to kick in. After that you could move into rural areas."In broadband roll out Mr. Bajaj suggested USO fund to help fill the viability gap for the industry. End user subsidy and financial incentive for broadening access were needed to realise the full potential of national broadband revolution.
Demonstrating a video presentation of futuristic developments on broadband, Ram Shinde, senior vice-president of Aircel Business Solutions showed how new devices developed at Media Lab at MIT in US, were able to do several tasks like taking photographs, browsing through Internet, reading books and newspapers, selecting competing products in a super market merely by moving gestures by the fingers.
"Teenagers would henceforward be called "screenagers" Mr. Shinde suggested , "Telecom is changing and screens are changing. The mobile phone to India is like the motor car was to the US. We will have homes with motion sensing as broadband progresses." He said the mobile was set to become "sixth sense device" giving an entirely new dimension to human capability.
Ubiquitous access, easy delivery, affordable tariff, size of implementation and user experience would determine success of 3G roll out MTNL executive director of wireless services, AK Bhargava recalled the experience of his company in roll out of 3G services. He urged all fixed lines to be broadband capable. In fact, broadband should be prime service on fixed line, the MTNL executive said. He expected 3.5G technology to be available in two years. Tariff for data services had already come down but cost of data has to come further down for the full potential of 3G to be used.
According to Dr. C. S. Rao, president, corporate affairs , Reliance Communications, broadband would be soon reaching out to half the seven billion population of the world. Though it would have multiple uses, entertainment and media industry would set the pace for broadband acceptance. The end of the decade would see 256GB RAM, 10 terabytes and 1GB of speed in broadband services. What was needed was plan for 5RKM of inter-city fibre network, a million RKM of intra city fibre and 320 MHz of spectrum with another 80 MHz for 3G to provide the infrastructure for the countrywide broadband to be successful. "Digital India will be a reality very soon", he foretold.
Almost every forward looking country was putting into effect national broadband plans with active government participation, said telecom expert T. R. Dua with South Korea taking the lead. Mr. Dua is the vice-chairman of Global ICT Standardization Forum for India.