Broadband Archives — Page 4 of 26


The Indian government has finally renamed its National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) project as BharatNet. This belated re-branding is a good move, since the acronym was susceptible to distortion – “No fiber network.” Nevertheless, BharatNet aims to connect 250,000 villages and small towns (Gram Panchayats) via 600,000km of optical fiber network to provide broadband. Prime Minister Mr. Modi has formed a committee to “analyze the structure” of this INR720.
One does not expect a simple assignment in a course to yield a news story that is distributed by a news service, but that is what happened at the broadband course we taught 28-31 March in Nagarkot, Nepal. The assignment required the team members to, inter alia, Assess the likelihood of success of the following elements of the Broadband Policy Draft of the NTA, by assembling evidence on the past performance of the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF) (including disbursement efficiency (i.e., what percentage of money was spent within a defined time period) The extraordinarily low disbursement rate caught everyone’s attention. Given the presence of journalists in the course, it was not surprising that it made the news too: The government has spent only 2.
A four-day course on broadband policy and regulation for Nepali participants commences in Nagarkot on the 28th of March. The course is the fourth in the series supported by Ford Foundation, and the first to be held outside India. It is co-organized with the Internet Society Nepal. The course seeks to enable members of Nepalese civil-society groups (including academics and those from the media) to marshal available research and evidence for effective participation in broadband policy and regulatory processes including interactions with media, thereby facilitating and enriching policy discourse on means of increasing broadband access by the poor. Five assignments form the centerpiece of the learning activities.
Internet.org, Facebook’s effort to give people free Internet (or at least 38 websites and services that do not include Google) was launched earlier this month. This has resulted in a quantum leap in discussions of various aspects of net neutrality, including ones that connect the debate in the rich countries to our reality that is dominated by people who has no access to Internet of any kind. Here is a good example. The critical question is “who is the target user of Internet.
Modi Seeks Telecom Ministry to Speed Up Broadband Project http://t.co/Iz433L5HJ0 pic.twitter.com/6VvpnnVs65 — New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) February 8, 2015 When I saw the tweet, I thought Modi was going to takeover the telecom portfolio. Only to find it was a bad headline that had then crept into a misleading tweet.
I’ve seen larger numbers being thrown around but this seems to be the component that the Indian Department of Telecom will control through its BBNL special purpose vehicle. The Rs 20,100 crore national broadband network will serve as a countrywide optic-fibre pipe to provide high-speed internet connectivity across rural India while the Rs 30,000-crore-plus wifi-based e-services project aims to create a commercial ecosystem to recover the costs of building such rural broadband infrastructure. Since the national broadband project is likely to see a 40% cost-escalation to nearly Rs 28,000 crore, the combined capex and opex cost of executing both projects is internally envisaged at roughly Rs 60,000 crore by DoT. “Currently, BBNL’s role is purely B2B (business to business), in that, it will be a bandwidth supplier to telcos who will eventually ride on the national broadband network to deliver services. But if BBNL is also required to deliver broadband services, its business model will have to migrate to the business-to-consumer (B2C) format,” said another DoT official aware of the matter.

Americans pay more for lesser Internet

Posted on November 2, 2014  /  3 Comments

The Open Technology Institute (OTI) finds that customers in the U.S. continue to pay higher prices for slower Internet. It examines broadband prices and speeds in 24 cities in the U.S.
Our colleague Sunil Abraham had the following to say about Digital India: What do you think of the government’s Digital India plan? The government can use the billions from the Universal Service Obligation fund for broadband connectivity. The markets cannot handle back haul infrastructure and in most countries, some amount of state investment is necessary. Some of the open access details have to be worked out. The government seems to have a monopoly position in execution.

Has “broadband” but no mobile

Posted on October 22, 2014  /  1 Comments

I’ve been fascinated with cellar dweller countries for a while. I thought North Korea was the country at the bottom, but then discovered St Helena. So now it appears that St Helena is getting an airport and maybe even a submarine cable? St Helena is a small island heading for big change. One of the most isolated islands in the world, St Helena has been used as a stopover for passing ships on the pre-Suez canal route from Europe to Asia and South Africa and as a place of exile.
Apparently, the eight percent tax on the gross adjusted revenues of ISPs will not be implemented. Good. TRAI had suggested a uniform licence fee of 8 per cent of the AGR (adjusted gross revenue) for all ISP and ISP-Internet Telephony licences. Government levies licence fee on AGR of telecom firms after deducting some components that are not earned from telecom services. TRAI had earlier also recommended that government levy 8 per cent licence fee from April 1, 2013, but the proposal was deferred then, after questions raised on revenue items that should be considered for calculating the final charges.
All these years Sri Lanka was connected to its main international communication conduits (SEA-ME-WE 2, 3 and 4) from Colombo and Mount Lavinia (a suburb of Colombo) over branch cables. In the case of SEA-ME-WE 5, the new consortium cable that is expected to come online in 2016, the connection will be direct, in that the Alcatel built cable will terminate in Brown’s Hill in Matara (close to the southernmost point of Sri Lanka) and the eastern component to be built by NEC will commence from the same location. This will shave off several milliseconds from the delivered latency partly because of the use of superior regenerators and partly because of the reduced distance. This is what Wikipedia says: Latency is largely a function of the speed of light, which is 299,792,458 meters/second in vacuum. This would equate to a latency of 3.

TRAI wants a band-aid for broadband

Posted on September 25, 2014  /  0 Comments

India’s regulator has launched a public consultation on – “Delivering Broadband Quickly: What do we need to do?” TRAI has identified many bottlenecks across the broadband supply chain in India. It is, however, mute on the duopoly of Tata and Bharti over the submarine cable landing stations. TRAI underscores the rationalization of right-of-way. It should have revealed that some states charge as high as INR 1.
In the design of India’s broadband initiative, it was said that one thing was non-negotiable: the work had to be done by state-owned enterprises. Knowledgeable people advised the government that this would slow down implementation. And so it happened. Now the new Minister is hiring 10 CIOs to push implementation (including much of the eco system), setting realistic time targets and upping the spend from USD 7 billion to USD 17 billion. And taking all the credit, as is customary.
This op-ed article contributed by a LIRNEasia associate, places more emphasis than we would on fixed wireless as a means for achieving broadband in Indonesia. This could possibly be because the author is immersed in European policy thinking, having been educated in Sweden and now working for the EU in Spain. But nevertheless it is a valuable contribution to policy discourse. And it comes at the right time, just as President Jokowi gets to work. The background document, funded under a Ford Foundation project, is here.
Iran has released 3G and 4G frequencies. It is now possible to share pictures taken by one’s phone. The Islamic Republic has eased up on its efforts to strangle the Internet, while not actually killing it. I’ve been talking about this off and on. But, Iran has added a new twist.

ICTs and education

Posted on May 25, 2014  /  0 Comments

Increasingly, we are beginning to hit the wall with respect to Internet use because of constraints that involve people. We lack users with the skills necessary to use full potential of the Internet. We lack the innovative entrepreneurs who could develop the content and apps that would attract more of our people to the Internet. The problem is illustrated by the puzzle of Sri Lanka’s low Internet user population (25 percent) and low use of Internet from the home (11 percent of households) despite the country offering the lowest broadband prices in the world. At these prices adoption should be rocket-like.