In broadband, China zooms India stalls

14 thoughts on “In broadband, China zooms India stalls”

  1. I called MTNL last week to get a broadband connection and they told me their at capacity at the CO the services me. No ports for another month…WTF. My broadband adventure continues, it’s been 3 weeks and still waiting for the cable guys to install their service.

    pray for me.

  2. Consumer broadband in India is a massive un-solved problem due to
    Failure of the regulatory body to foster free market competition and a retrograde licensing regime( separate voice, VPN and Video licenses for ISPs) trying to protect huge voice telcos at the expense of pure-play ISPs. ISPs failure to cooperate and sensibly price datacenter services. Anti-competitive last mile providers ( cable companies ) demarcating areas of operation by relying on muscle power. Ham-handed government backed efforts to make ISPs peer at a high cost(cost of last mile) NIXI instead of gentle nudges,education and fostering of free market for the ISPs. I tried to list problems faced by IT managers trying to buy corporate Internet bandwidth here along with my utopian ideas on how to fix it. NGO/Government backed efforts at spreading Internet are not about Bollywood, they are about e-learning. The low PC penetration doesn’t help. I do believe that the young in India definitely want to do the same “cool” things the young people in the west/far east. Bollywood and Gaming are definitely the two biggest killer apps for India. There is definitely a huge market for reasonable quality and competitively priced $10-$30 (per month) broadband Internet services in India.

  3. You are absolutely correct in your observation. The problem is that though the government of India has declared 2007 as the year of broadband I feel they forgot to inform the relevant telecos about their vision. What Indian government run telcos lack is planning in any form or fashion. The sad part is that MTNL in Mumbai is still the best, though that’s not saying much…

    The other issue due to which broadband is not taking off is pricing. Basic plans are expensive and we have something called “download limit” where if you download more that 1 GB a month you pay for every additional MB that you download.

    All I can say is that we have a long way to go…

  4. Broadband is stillborn in India. There is obvious conflict of interest here; the companies (public sector or private) that provide broadband are the same ones minting money through ISD calls, especially when inland calling rates are amongst the lowest in the world due to competition. The biggest casualty due to broadband in India is the ISD revenue. Not so much of outgoing calls since those are falling rapidly this year. The golden goose for the government is something called ‘Access Deficit Charge’. Indian expats calling home still pay hefty rates (10-20 cents) and contribute to this kitty. Then why would the incumbants push broadband that could potentially kill this revenue? The three major private players would not complain either because the high ISD rates (and less competition) helps them too. That explains why one reform, of allowing carrier access codes (similar to Europe and maybe US?) has been stalled for so long.
    Further, all these broadband/ISD providers also have IPTV/DTH ventures lined up; why would they push unlimited plans that would threaten their TV ventures?

  5. Govt. backed MTNL/BSNL are the only reliable service provider in India. Right now they are having serious capacity issues. Seems the waiting is spanning months. This shows the disconnect between govt. policies and operators’ capability. However it is very heartening to find that broadband has reached far and wide. Even remote areas are getting broadband. Its just that India is not yet at “on demand” stage.
    Private players are worst. Bharati takes around 2 weeks to install the equipment and another week to activate the service. Their modems do not support plug-n-play wireless router. Their after sales support is as bad.

  6. The days of License Raj are back in India when it comes to Broadband. You need to know someone in the company where you are applying for broadband conenction. MTNL has a waiting queue of 8,000 in Delhi and 18,000 in Mumbai.

  7. I had read somewhere that internet might be available free of cost for Indians in a couple of years but with companies like Reliance entering it who are notorious for keeping every government in power in their pocket this may be a distant dream and penetration might never reach the desired level without proper government will

  8. India can do well if its government machinery realises the potential of internet. On a recent trip to my small native town in Himachal, I went to take MTNL’s internet card to connect my laptop to internet which I have been using since last 2 years on every trip back homoe. This time I was told that this practice has been stopped and now I have to send an application to head office and will get card in 3 days time. Talk about going backwards.

  9. Well,
    Any wired connection implies the presense of a lot of fiber allover the city.
    These fiber cables get stolen by poor people, and even more, by incumbent cableTV operators.
    This leads to frequent outages.
    So more people stick with their dial-up accounts.

  10. Excellent observations and discussion. It may be noted that several state governments in India are embarking on ambitious pilot projects to provide free wireless broadband access to its constituents. This could potentially be game-changing for several communications service providers. Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh are a few examples where municipal corporations have taken out tenders. It is great that Intel is participating in some of these initiatives. However it is also disturbing that financial lenders in India are taking a short-sighted view on info tech – I heard GVFL, a so-called local ‘venture fund’, invested in a reasonably strong ISP called Icenet in Gujarat but GVFL ‘ceo’ vishnu varshney forced a premature exit when the company chose to take a long-term strategic view on broadband projects and bid on such projects. Hopefully the new style of silicon valley venture capital in India will provide much needed risk capital for experimenting innovative business models in the brave new India.

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