TRAI Seeks Suggestions For Better Broadband Connectivity and Speed

Broadband connectivity and speed are one of the essential services at present. Due to coronavirus, there is a massive increase in dependency on broadband connectivity and speed. Companies have made the declaration of work from home. There is a raise in the online transactions, online banking and e-payment as it minimises social contact. Online virtual classes began for students. All of these hugely depend on internet connectivity. There will be a change in the post-pandemic era in this area. The use of telecom and internet connectivity will be extensive in our daily life. It is a necessity at present. 

The Government of India is taking steps for betterment and improvement of broadband connectivity in India. The constant development in the field of Information and Communications Technology puts pressure on the telecom service providers to further improve broadband connections. Demand for high speed and reliable broadband is growing. Services of voice, video, data, internet, and wideband multimedia are indispensable in these present times. There is a need to increase investments in the telecom infrastructure to meet the increase in the supply of broadband services. 

The Union Cabinet approved the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP), 2018, which provides a strategy to improve the performance of broadband networks. There is a need to convert these strategies into an actionable plan. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday issued a consultation paper on ‘‘Roadmap to promote Broadband Connectivity and Enhanced Broadband Speed”.

TRAI by a notification on Thursday sought for the inputs by stakeholders on this consultation paper in the matters of defining fixed and mobile broadband, innovative approaches for infrastructure creation, promoting broadband connectivity, and measures for enhancing the broadband speed. The written comments on this consultation paper are to be sent by 21st September 2020 and counter-comments, if any, by 5th October 2020.

This consultation paper concentrates on facilitating a faster and cost-effective rollout of telecom networks and innovative approaches in infrastructure creation. It aims to improve the affordability of broadband services to the common public by optimal utilisation of the available telecom infrastructure.

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In this consultation paper, TRAI discusses policies and regulating initiatives, issues relating to the broadband definition, connectivity, speed enhancement and infrastructure creation in the form of questions in these areas and providing answers and details relating to it. In the last chapter, it summarises the issues for consultation from the stakeholders. 

TRAI, in its consultation paper, states that even though mobile broadband data is easily available, 40% of total mobile subscribers do not access data services. It discusses points to increase mobile broadband data. It examines in detail a revised definition of broadband. It seeks suggestions on revised definition along with the threshold download and upload speeds if required for defining it. It also categorises broadband based on the speed. It discusses if there is a particular model for the development of common ducts infrastructure or if it to be left on the landowning agencies. 

It concentrates on improving marketplace operations. For efficient market operations, there is a need of e-marketplace supported by GIS platform for sharing, leasing, and trading of duct space, dark fibre, and mobile towers and provides for the alternate solution for making passive infrastructure market efficient. It questions why the fixed broadband service subscription rate is so poor in India even though it is more reliable and capable of delivering higher speed. It examines what is holding back Local Cable Operators (LCOs) from providing broadband services. It also examines the probable reasons for slower mobile broadband speeds in India, primarily when the underlying technology and equipment used for mobile networks are similar across the world.

TRAI has taken a positive step regarding enhancing broadband connectivity and speed by discussing relevant issues and seeking answers in this matter. In this present scenario, it is of utmost importance to concentrate in this area for facilitating smooth work in all fields. Availability of high-speed internet and uninterrupted broadband connectivity contributes to the economic growth of the country. TRAI seeks to improve and promote broadband services in both rural and urban areas to facilitate faster transactions and better-working conditions in all fields of work which is a welcome step for the growth of the country with regards to the post-pandemic era.

For any clarifications/feedback on the topic, please contact the writer at mayashree.acharya@cleartax.in

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