Now, at least 2 Mbps speed required to get broadband tag

The change comes after 9 years of broadband service being defined as 512Kbps

February 03, 2023 01:21 pm | Updated February 04, 2023 12:22 am IST - NEW DELHI

File picture of BSNL broadband cables system. Image for representation

File picture of BSNL broadband cables system. Image for representation | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The definition of broadband now requires a minimum speed of 2Mbps from telecom operators, after previously requiring a fourth of that bandwidth, 512Kbps, since 2013. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) notified the change in a January 25 gazette notification published on Thursday.

“Broadband is a data connection that is able to support interactive services including Internet access and has the capability of the minimum download speed of 2 Mbps to an individual subscriber from the point of presence (POP) of the service provider intending to provide Broadband service,” the new definition says.

While broadband is generally understood to mean home WiFi connections, government statistics include faster mobile internet connections in the category. Wired broadband and wireless broadband will both be subject to this 2Mbps limit.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had formally recommended the new speed to the DoT in September 2021. By the previous definition, there were 825.38 million broadband users in India in November 2022, according to TRAI data.

The effort to update this definition has been on for over a decade, by which time the internet speeds in the country outpaced 2Mbps by orders of magnitude. The National Telecom Policy 2012 had set a goal of updating the definition of broadband to 2Mbps by 2015.

The median wired broadband speed in India is over 75Mbps, and for wireless broadband (mobile) it is over 36Mbps, according to December 2022 data from Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index. As 5G coverage on networks expands, these numbers are likely to go up.

The industry resisted this definition update due to the potential implications it would create when 4G networks are not able to reliably serve at least 2Mbps, such as due to too many devices connected to a single tower causing network congestion, or due to a user being too far from their nearest base station.

“The actual speed available to or experienced by the [broadband] customer will vary depending upon a number of dynamic factors,” the Cellular Operators Association of India said in a 2020 filing. The industry group said that “with focus towards affordability and availability, the present definition [of 512 Kbps for broadband] should be continued.”

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