BUSINESS

Maran for cheaper, faster Internet services

NEW DELHI, JUNE 1. The Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Dayanidhi Maran, has underlined the need for providing fast and cheap broadband and Internet connectivity to give a fillip to interactive services.

In his first meeting with senior Department of Telecommunications (DoT) officials, Mr. Maran directed them to thoroughly examine the recently submitted recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Internet and frame a `viable policy' on broadband and Internet connectivity.

The proliferation of inexpensive, speedy broadband services would favourably impact the gross domestic product, enabling the country to attract new investment and new job opportunities would be created. This would increase productivity through infrastructure creation.

The Minister of State for Communications and IT, Shakeel Ahmed, was present.

During the meeting, the Ministers were briefed on the TRAI's recent recommendations on broadband — it has projected two crore broadband and four crore Internet subscribers by 2010. This would translate into a penetration level of 1.7 per cent and 3.4 per cent. Other recommendations include unbundling of the local loop through the shared or bit stream access, encouraging broadband through cable, DTH and the V-SAT platform, simplifying the right of way, reduction in duties for imported items used in broadband, the service tax exemption for ISPs, web hosting services and the creation of appropriate content and applications.

TRAI had observed that Internet growth in India was flat and at times had even declined. On the other hand, other countries like Korea, China and Malaysia have doubled or trebled the size of Internet and the broadband subscriber base. India now has 0.4 Internet connections and 0.02 broadband connections per 100 persons, while Korea has 25. China has 1.4 broadband connections per 100 persons and the current level is 50 per cent higher than what it was just six months ago.

Korea has achieved its success story in a span of less than five years, going from less than one broadband subscriber per 100 persons in 1999 to 25. By 2002, about 30 per cent of the GDP was transacted on broadband. The lessons that India learns from these examples can be applied to our current situation to realise the same explosive success, noted TRAI.