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Resolution of Key Issues by Government can Zoom Indian Consumer Broadband Market by USD 6 Billion by 2016

1. Right To Broadband (RTB) Act. NTP 2012 envisages broadband for all. In order to deliver the key objective of broadband for all to the citizens, Right To Broadband (RTB) Act must be enacted on similar lines of Right To Education (RTE) Act.

2. Broadband as a Critical National Infrastructure for Growth and Governance. The nation recognizes basic infrastructure like roads, rail, ports, airports, power, education, health care, agriculture, transportation, housing etc in its national plan document and earmarks a suitable financial outlay. Broadband as per the “Broadband Commission of the UN” has been already declared as an essential infrastructure to accelerate growth and governance in all countries. Every 10 % broadband penetration adds 1.38 % to the GDP of a country and paves the way for the delivery of much improved government services to its citizens. Top 40 developed countries have already demonstrated excellent growth and governance year after year. India needs to declare broadband as a critical national infrastructure. The benefits extended to other infrastructure projects also need to be extended to all types of infrastructure based upon wireless, wire line, cable, satellite and fiber used for providing Broadband services.

3. Right Of Way (ROW). The greatest impediment to the creation of the national critical broadband infrastructure is the ROW policy. Fortunately, government has successfully streamlined ROW for NOFN as BBNL has signed the ROW agreement with states and UTs. The provisions of the ROW agreement between BBNL and states/UTs should also be extended to telcos and other companies building the broadband infrastructure to give them a level playing field so that broadband infrastructure proliferates quickly.

4. Open Access Infrastructure. There is a need to declare that all broadband infrastructure, whether wire line or wireless, should be open access so that costly access infrastructure is shared by all service providers to bring down the total cost of generating and operating the broadband service which can then be priced also cheap directly benefiting the end customer.

5. Nation wide Creation of Broadband Access Infrastructure. As BBNL has been entrusted to create broadband infrastructure up to each Gram Panchayat (GP), there is a need to create common passive access infrastructure like trenching, ducting and fiber under the aegis of the states. The states invest in this and the access service provider licensees lease the fiber from the states in accordance with a uniform policy of tariffs laid down by the central government. Based upon their demand perception, the access service provider licensees light up the fiber and create the necessary access band width which is urgently needed to deliver broadband service.

6. Last Mile Broadband Infrastructure. This should be made mandatory for all real estate developers for all new housing projects just like water, electricity, sewerage, colony roads, storm water drains etc. The builder charges onetime cost from the owners and RWAs then take over the maintenance and organize the same through the access service provider licensees just like they organize the maintenance of infrastructure of water, electricity, sewerage etc through the civic bodies. Provision of last mile broadband infrastructure is a must and no completion certificate is issued to the builders without this.

7. CATV Industry (MSOs and LCOs). India has at least 100 million homes already wired up for CATV. With world ’ s largest CATV digitization exercise going on in the country, there is a need to ensure that this also enables the carriage of non TV services apart from entertainment centric TV services. MSOs can act as the whole sellers who appoint the LCOs as the retailers. A very viable broadband infrastructure gets created by the interconnection of Telco’s carrier grade core and edge network, MSOs access network and LCOs last mile network, all of this in accordance with very practical interconnection regulation covering all techno-commercial aspects. For 100 million digitized CATV homes, this paves the way to serve true broadband to more than 420 million people assuming that there are 4.2 members in a family as declared by the Chief Statistical Organization (CSO). Such an arrangement would require a structural separation of carriage and content, therefore, CATV industry of MSOs and LCOs for networks can be governed by the MICT and for the content, and they are governed by the MIB.

8. Planning of Utility Ducts. To avoid repeated diggings and damages to broadband/telecom infrastructure, all roads should be planned to provide for trenching and ducting/piping/cabling of all utilities including broadband/telecom lines.

9. Indian Consumer Broadband Market in 2016. If the government addresses the above issues, India would have at least 100 million additional broadband subs served by BWA, DSL and CATV by 2016. At a measly ARPU of USD 5, the Indian consumer broadband market grows by additional USD 6 Billion.

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