Off late we’ve been hearing a lot about smart cities and digital India vision. Ambitious plans of Digital India, e-governance and smart cities are all dependent on seamless connectivity through out the country. Its really important to check the details at grassroots of broadband in India to be able to see where we stand currently. As of now its really difficult to even find a decent broadband plan in major part of India. In fact we are even struggling to get a 512MBP/s speed on a regular basis with broadband in India.
“Reflecting advances in technology, market offerings by broadband providers and consumer demand…the 4 mbps/1 mbps standard set in 2010 is dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way, the FCC found,” : 2015 Broadband Progress Report, USA
In a latest move, British telecom regulator Ofcom is set to revolutionize the broadband market by prompting operators to share more accurate and reliable information on the broadband speeds with their business clients. The new telecom policy will be effective from September 2016.
As per the regulation on “Quality of Service standards for Broadband Services” issued by TRAI on 6th May, 2006, a subscriber should get minimum 80% of the subscribed broadband connection speed from ISP Node to user. Interestingly, No telecom company sells 4G packages in India without promising minimum speed.
India has 120 million broadband users — wired and wireless against 800 million plus mobile subscribers, as per the latest TRAI data. All broadband service providers are not giving personalized speed estimates to businesses during the sales process. The snap shot below shows the average speed of broadband in India.
Source : Akamai
According to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), there were 82.22 million broadband subscribers at the end of November. India’s top five service providers constituted 87% market share of total broadband subscribers in the same period. The service providers are Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) with 18.7 million subscribers, Bharti Airtel Ltd with 18.17 million, Vodafone Services (India) Pvt. Ltd with 15.61 million, Idea Cellular Ltdwith 12.26 million and Reliance Communications Ltd with 6.77 million.
It may be noted, though, that wireless subscribers with less than 1MB data usage in a month have not been considered as Internet or broadband subscribers by Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular.
In metro cities the scene is a bit different in when we talk about connectivity, availability, plans and pricing. Let us do a bit of reality check in terms of data options available to users in say Non-metro cities or Tier A cities like Jaipur for an instance. The service providers offering broadband internet in Jaipur are :
Only Reliance provides a true unlimited broadband plan with 1/2 MBPS speed rest all have a sill FUP capping which honestly does not make sense as it limits customer, basically leaving the customer to either purchase an addon high speed data pack or live with a snail speed 256/512 KBPS speed. Performance of Reliance Broadband will be reviewed in another post. There are a few more providers like Tikona Digital or the latest entrant Railwire, however they’ve not been included here due their current base size or limited coverage.
The overall situation is pretty grim at the moment with a handful of service providers offering data connectivity and there again the costs are pretty high. This can only change with either more service providers or with TRAI’s interventions. It’s difficult to envision how India will make effective Smart Cities with poor Internet speeds, since a great part of the accomplishment of a Smart City will rely on getting to data connectivity (Audio, Video and Data).