Trai for rapid growth of broadband

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended setting up of a National Broadband Network and a National Optical Fibre Agency (NOFA) to help the government achieve its goal of 20 million broadband connections all over the country.

In its recommendations on the proposed National Broadband Plan, Trai said the National Broadband Network will be an open access optical fibre network connecting all habitation with population of 500 and above.

This Network will be established in two phases: the first phase covering all cities, urban areas and Gram Panchayats will be completed by the year 2012 while Phase II will see the extension of the network to all the habitations having a population more than 500, to be completed by the year 2013.
The NOFA will establish this broadband network. NOFA is proposed to be a 100 per cent Central Government-owned holding company. Besides being a holding company, NOFA will also establish the networks in all the 63 cities covered under the Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM).

This network will be established at a cost of about Rs 600 billion. It will be financed by USO fund and the loan given/ guaranteed by Central Government. The programme is expected to bring immense benefit when fully operational. The estimated revenue of NOFA and all SOFAs is expected to be Rs 260 billion per year.

In order to enable cable industry to go fully digital, the recommendations of Trai dated 5 August 2010 on “Implementation of Digital addressable system in India” will need to be implemented on priority basis.

The Government may review the duties levied on inputs and finished products used in providing broadband and Internet services. Customer premises equipment including modem and routers used for Internet and broadband may be considered for 100 per cent depreciation in the first year.

At the outset, Trai said the penetration of broadband is 0.8 per cent as against the tele-density of 60.99 as of September 2010. The number of broadband connections is only 10.3 million as against a target of 20 million by the year 2010. Therefore, there is an urgent need to facilitate rapid growth of broadband. 
An effective National Broadband network would greatly facilitate inclusive growth of the country by including the large rural population in governance and decision making process and extend to the rural areas better education, health and banking facilities. ICT in general and broadband in particular contribute substantially to growth of GDP and towards poverty elevation by improving access with equity.

According to a study, 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration accounts for 1.38 percentage increase in the per capita GDP growth in developing economies.

A State Optical Fiber Agency (SOFA) would be formed in every state with 51 per cent equity held by NOFA and 49 per cent by the respective state government. NOFA would be the holding company of all the SOFAs. All the SOFAs under the overall guidance of NOFA will establish the networks and backhaul in the rural areas and in the urban areas other than those cities covered under Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM).

The National Broadband Plan envisages provision of 75 million broadband connections (17 million DSL, 30 Million cable and 28 million wireless broadband) by the year 2012 and 160 million broadband connections (22 million DSL, 78 million cable and 60 million wireless broadband) by the year 2014.

Trai has also specified the bandwidths for the households in metros, large cities and other areas.

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