Broadband Revolution – UPSC GS3

  • India ranks a low 39th in terms of fixed broadband adoption in the list of 53 Asia Pacific countries
  • Internet users in India is likely to more than double to 730 million by 2020.
  • As of December 2015, there were about 330 million Internet users in the country
  • India ranked 109th out of 122 countries in the mobile internet speed and 76th out of 133 countries in broadband space in the November 2017 Speedtest Global Index (SGI).
Problems of providing Internet access in India
  1. Government is selling spectrum mainly to increase its income and not with the motive of providing access or public good. This creates scarcity of spectrum.
  2. Telecom operators buy these to increase quality or to reduce competition in the market, thus, driving the prices up which are often passed on to the end consumer.
  3. To keep the prices down and profits up, operators choose options like Airtel Zero which are not ethical and violation of net neutrality.
How to deal with these issues?
  • Release spectrum in larger chunks
  • Have lower reserve prices
  • Create an environment where market forces drive telecom operators to bring down the pricing of Internet access to users
Some of the changes that can be made are:
  1. Ensure that all phones sold in India use Indic language-ready operating system software, covering most of the major languages. This will ensure that the internet is used by even those who are not well versed with English.
  2. Encourage companies to host locally, avoiding the additional cost (and latency) associated with sending traffic out of India
  3. Government buildings should host Wi-Fi routers from private ISPs. This will reduce the congestion by offloading to Wi-Fi.
  4. Encourage competition among ISPs to bring down prices:
  5. Launch of mobile operators such as Uninor and Tata Docomo
  6. Pricing innovation of per-second billing that brought prices down

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