Indian telecom regulator blames BSNL for stagnating b'band

NEW DELHI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Pradip Baijal today cautioned state-controlled telecom company, BSNL, against monopolizing infrastructure that can be used to give broadband a greater push.

Speaking at a broadband seminar, organized by Bharat Exhibitions here today, Baijal said Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL)'s policy of not sharing its network with other operators is hampering the growth of broadband in the country.

At the same time, Baijal said, other initiatives like ITC's e-chaupal and TeNet's nLog are leaving the state-controlled company behind in pushing newer technologies.

Baijal specifically pointed out how Andhra Pradesh was able to launch an alternative cheaper broadband fibre optic network through private-public partnership after BSNL quoted high rates for usage of its fibre line for this purpose.

However, BSNL director (finance) SD Saxena, who was with Baijal in the same seminar, urged that USO (universal service obligation) funding should be made available to his company for sharing of infrastructure on the basis of "marginal cost concept."

He deprecated the idea that just because BSNL had the infrastructure, it should be made to share it at a huge loss "We have sunk lot of money in building this infrastructure. That sort of investment is a nightmare (for others)", he asserted.

But Trai chief countered this by pointing out that as the network grew with the help of private players, the value of BSNL's infrastructure too would increase.

He cited the example of the UK's main operator BT in this regard that, after initial resistance to such sharing of infrastructure, was now retailing its network to any operator wanting to use it.

Baijal also reminded BSNL that the next generation networks that everyone was trying to build was fundamentally a sharing network.

Earlier at the conference, UTStarcom MD Vijay Yadav, AirTel's chief technology officer Jagbir Singh and Internet Service Providers' Association president Sanjay Dwivedi expressed grave concern at the slow growth of broadband subscriber base.

Instead of the targeted growth of three million subscribers in 2005, less than a million subscribers have been achieved in India.

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