India: Broadband Target Will Be Met

Posted on February 9, 2007  /  6 Comments

With the current growth rate of mobile subscriptions, India is the clear global leader in mobile net additions, but its broadband sector still has not met market expectations. Due to poor fixed line coverage, low PC adoption, and service pricing, broadband service has not been embraced by Indians in the way mobile phones were.

However, the ministry of communications and operators intend to change that by labeling 2007 the “Broadband Year,” hoping to reach a 20m broadband subscribers by 2010. With the help of telecom and PC manufacturers and operators’ deep pockets, the government believes their goal can be achieved. Pyramid Research argues that the country’s broadband aspirations will not be achieved for 2007, however it will exceed its 2011 target.

Service providers will be more aggressive with their broadband offerings to consumers and business customers in 2007, with massive investment plans. BSNL, the state-owned incumbent, announced its “Broadband Year” strategy by setting its target to connect 50m broadband users by 2007.

SitiCable, a cable operator, plans to connect 8.7m households by 2010. Pyramid Research expects the majority of these broadband subscriptions to be GSM/EDGE subscribers from BSNL’s mobile arm, as the operator is investing heavily in its mobile network. On the fixed side, the BSNL intends to deploy more than 6m DSL lines, and the operator has also awarded Alberto Networks with a WiMAX contract to supply the operators with a high-capacity WiMAX base station.

Major customer equipment subsidization programs will be installed to overcome the overall ownership costs for potential subscribers. Reliance will be providing B and C class towns, with the bare essentials—a low-cost PC and a free fixed-wireless phone. Furthermore, the government announced major investments to further subsidize costs for rural customers. In addition, MTNL will be subsidizing its customer equipment units to help make broadband service affordable.



  1. If you only look at raw numbers of mobile connections being added, yes, India does look like a leader.

    But how relevant an indicator is this? Between 2005 and 2006, Pakistan, increased its mobile/100 count from around 8 to around 25, overtaking both India and Sri Lanka (among its South Asian peers) in the process. If India is being overtaken by Pakistan, what value is adding 6 million phones a month? India has to grow faster to justify these encominiums.

  2. This reads like a press release from the Indian ministry of communication. I wouldn’t take these predictions and projections very seriously at all. They have missed one deadline after the other in meeting broadband penetration targets, why will they meet the new one?? This issue has been discussed in the past here:

    The article above doesn’t mention anything about unbundling the local loop, a key recommendation made by TRAI to stimulate broadband growth, which has been struck down by the DoT.

    I can’t believe research companies like Pyramid are recycling this garbage as research.

  3. does India even have the infrastructure and supporting regulations for mass mainstream broadband internet?
    India don’t have enough bandwidth to deploy consumer broadband countrywide [even citywide] . because its a country with abnormally high population India needs more than words of mouth to do that.
    last time i checked they have broadband availability in limited city areas with slow speed broadband (

  4. India has about 500,000 kilometers of fiber optic backbone pretty evenly spread across the country. So the basic infrastructure for providing broadband services exists in India. There is in fact excess domestic capacity and adequate international capacity landing into India.

    However, the issue is to reach individual homes via the last mile access network. This is where the problem lies. There just aren’t enough fixed lines going into homes, in fact fixed line penetration has gone down in the last year. If the policymakers (DoT) open their eyes to see where the bottleneck lies in broadband growth, they would require BSNL to unbundle its local loop and more importantly mandate access to BSNL’s extensive backbone network at cost-oriented prices. Wireless technologies like Wimax can be relatively cheaply and quickly deployed to bridge the last mile deficit to reach individual homes as long as competitive providers can access BSNL’s backhaul network to connect to their points of presence and to the Internet gateway.

    BSNL will claim it can do it all on its own, which it has been doing for a number of years. The results are there for everyone to see. They have been missing one broadband roll-out deadline after another.

    Providers like Reliance and Bharti are laying their own backbone network. It will take time, the network will not be as extensive as BSNL’s and the network may not reach the hinterlands. In the meantime, bureaucrats can twiddle their thumb and from time to time revise the broadband roll-out time table.

    On another note, when I was in India last (March 2007) BSNL advertised that it had upgraded all broadband to 2MB/s. Are there any BSNL customers out there who get anywhere close to 2MB/s? I will be very impressed if that were the case.

  5. Bsnl has the infrastructure to provide high speed internet, All the major cites a total of 23 are been connected with STM streams and mesh and dual connectivity. And the international gateway bandwidth is of 2Gbps.

    And yes, BSNL subscribers are having 2Mb/s dataconnectivity, actually the speed limit for current technology used by BSNL is 15 Mb/s. But may be because of international bandwidth they r limiting it to 2 mbs, curently 8mbs is also avaible.

  6. Broadband speeds of India and Sri Lanka
    We have information on the quality of BSNL broadband (both business and residential packages) from our tests. While the performance of the Business package (2M/256k) is not different from what two Sri Lankan operators delivered, its residential package performed the best in all seven we have tested. (see above)