Lower bandwidth costs would help broadband: Trai chief

NEW DELHI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Pradip Baijal today called for further reduction in tariffs to enable broadband penetration into rural areas to make "each village into a BPO or info centre".

"Rural connectivity should be seen as an opportunity rather than an obligation" Baijal said, hinting that the regulator would come out with further reduction in telecom tariffs, bandwidth costs and access deficit charges (ADC)..

Delivering the inaugural address at a seminar on Broadband Tech 2004, organised by Bharat Exhibitions here today, Baijal compared the Indian and Chinese bandwidth and broadband charges and asserted there was enough space for the sharp reductions here.

The Trai chairman also made it clear that the regulator would recommend removal of restrictions on voice over Internet protocol. The Authority is about to come out with recommendations on this and other subjects like bandwidth costs soon.

Pointing out that with urban teledensity at 21 per cent and rural at just 1.7 per cent, the divide has widened. He suggested country's biggest telecom company in terms of reach and coverage, the state-controlled Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, look for a business model with far lower connectivity charges in rural areas so that the six lakh km optical fibre it had set up across the country "does not remain (in the) dark (under the ground)".

"Fibre with BSNL is a gold mine. Leverage it," he told the gathering, especially Dr. SD Saxena, BSNL's director (finance), who had made a presentation on the occasion highlighting his organisation's achievements in the arena of broadband. The Trai chief saw an opportunity in broadband connectivity to villages taking off from this fibre network.

According to him, broadband costs for the consumer had to come down from $ 15 per 100 kilobits per second to $ 3

to enable the rural connectivity revolution that was waiting to happen.

BSNL's huge network of 600,000 fibre, 60,000 exchanges and for over 40 million subscribers, covering the entire country, was available for "anyone" to provide connectivity for broadband, according to the public sector corporation's Saxena.

Discussing the different broadband models adopted by Korea, Japan and Europe, Saxena cautioned against trying to implement such models wholesale as experience proved that each country had to develop its own model.

Mahanagar Telecom Nigam LTD (MTNL), Metalink, Midas Communications, BayPackets, Juniper Networks, PWCooper, ministry of IT, 3Com, Bharti Infotel, Loral Skynet are among the many participants at the conference.

The conference also discussed issue related to content for broadband networks with many broadcasters and content makers like Audiocodes Grus Media Works, Shaf Broadcast and Sahara TV participating.

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