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Summary:

By Dr. Abhishek Puri Real nirvana he can find, but Dr. Abhishek Puri is waiting for broadband nirvana. Hopefully one day he will buy a Mac and surf at 100 megabits per second. Meanwhile, he will suffer slow speeds and keep us entertained and informed. This […]

By Dr. Abhishek Puri

Real nirvana he can find, but Dr. Abhishek Puri is waiting for broadband nirvana. Hopefully one day he will buy a Mac and surf at 100 megabits per second. Meanwhile, he will suffer slow speeds and keep us entertained and informed. This is a once a week column. – Om

Broadband Madness: After making its geeks go through broadband equivalent of chinese water torture, Indian telecom and broadband providers have suddenly decided its time to open the pipes a little wider. What prompted them on a nation wide roll out now? Two reasons — the landline and wireless voice revenues are going south faster than hopes for a cool summer. They have realized data is the only way to survive. Ironically, the internet service provider is open to 100 percent foreign investment, and ISP licenses to be had for less than a penny. Still no takers! (Sky Dayton , are you listening!)

Less than 256 kbps is not broadband: In what is supposed to be far reaching decision by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) it mandated that speeds less than 256 kbps are not to be marketed as Broadband. It was seen that companies like Sify, Airtel and Tata’ s were marketing connections of 32,64 and 128 kbps as broadband. Would this have any effect on the telecom companies? I have my doubts. Post TRAI’s order, Tata’s were quick to add that 128 kbps should not be counted as broadband but refused to upgrade the speeds. For Airtel that offers it’s services as Airtel Broadband, there is a lacuna here. They would still market their slow 64kbps and above under the same brand name. It is the end consumer who looses out in the bargain. I believe that much more prudent step would have been to ban these telecom companies from selling anything less than 256 kbps.

Bollywood on Demand: Since Indian cable sector is disorganized and consumers have been weaned on flat rate monthly fees, premium channels and video on demand did not make much economic sense in India. But ADSL changes all that. ADSL gives an excellent platform for the introduction of the streaming video and content. Only getting content is not that easy even for state owned BSNL which is struggling to get TV networks on board. Reliance, apparently is facing similar challenges in getting entertainment channels on board which might be the real reason for their nation wide triple-play roll out.

Indian Telecoms head to the hinterlands: Like rest of the world Indian telecom and broadband providers are chasing the urban consumer, ignoring the rural consumers and smaller towns where demand is growing in parallel with economic affluence. Despite the madatory requirements in their licences, telecos have refused to address the crying need for infrastructure there. Being risk averse, they chose to concenterate on the bigger cities where they could ramp up numbers. But not all is lost, and there might be some positive developments for the rural India. TRAI has set up Universal Service Obligation fund where in the operators had to give 5% of their revenues to the same. Part of the funding was done from the Consolidated Fund of India (a black hole as far as tax payer’s money is concerned). Despite the financial incentives, it was only last week that BSNL, Reliance and Tata’s won the contracts for setting up infrastructure in the underserved areas. It is convienient to forget that BSNL was mandated to do just that, though it waited nearly 50 years to get around to meet its obligations.

Call Center Cool: The big towns are too expensive to live, and as a result the call centers are moving to tiny towns like Mohali (Read Dell-jit) Wipro is now looking at Calcutta (given that commies have turned over a new leaf and embracing capitalism. It means folks in these towns would have nice disposable incomes which means they can afford to buy a PC and broadband.

Fiber in every village: A recent Economic survey says that Optic Fibre had reached every nook and corner of the country. BSNL owns major part of the same.

  1. Can video-on-demand work in India ?

    Dr. Puri writes in Om Malik’s blog:

    Bollywood on Demand: Since Indian cable sector is disorganized and consumers have been weaned on flat rate monthly fees, premium channels and video on demand did not make much economic sense in India. But A…

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  2. Ron Piovesan Friday, March 25, 2005

    India has a stronger domestic film market than any other country, even the US. And Bollywood films are especially of interest to those less affluent in India, those who do not speak English (ie, 75% of the country) and those whose stations in life mean that they desperately seek the escapism of Bollywood pictures. True, than can afford very, very little. But by their sheer numbers (over 800m ?) they must be an attractive market for some telco and/or cable company to want to roll out VOD services to them. Surely, hundreds of millions of Bollywood-addicted villagers must be an attractive market for some BB operator.

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  3. i think it is another way for the market niches to evolve there. in many ways if you think about it, VoD is perfect way to expand the art house film business. affluent consumers love those art-type movies and can afford to go for VoD services. I think there might be a business model here for phone companies who are willing to back indid film makers.

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  4. The weekly blogside view of the Indian economy (9)

    See what the Elephant feels like this week….

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  5. Broadband with Limited Data Transfer?

    I think that is insanity. All the broadband schemes offered by MTNL/BSNL, while are fast, have limited data transfers, like a GB per month. I think this completely defeats the purpose of having a broadband connection.

    On my perma-dialup line, I download a GB in four days or less, and as compared to a “broadband” solution, am pretty happy about it.

    Of course, I would more than love to get a real unlimited broadband connection. Maybe, I will take a job at an ISP then!

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  6. This is the real tragedy of “broadband”. It is still a fledgling, trying to get it’s feet on ground and would be immature to write off. What I am waiting for is Reliance who would change the face of content delivery in India. VOD would become a reality in that case.
    And yes, the download limits suck which defeats the whole purpose of broadband, if we can call it so.Still, an effort has been made.

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  7. I am desparately waiting for that day when a comman man like me will get net connection within Rs 300/- that means equal to one months mobile bill with facilities as unlimited browsing (and downloads ofcourse).
    any sugestions

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  8. i got Bsnl and it has the streaming video activated.and the bytes transfer are more than 50 KB to 300KB.i dont know whether this will be charged extra.but currently my plan is in unlimited upto june31 as stated by bsnl.my plan is basic Rs500
    plan/month.

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  9. Mr. prabhu i too have video streaming activated.

    Can u please tell me whether we will be charged extra.

    Please reply as soon as possible..

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  10. Well, i don’t know about Reliance and BSNL, but Sify sucks!
    The local agents charge another Rs100 over the stipulated charges in the name of maintenance charges. And the connection is almost always having some kind of problem. All this for a measly 64kbps! Anyway its at least unlimited downloads. Though there is some stupid scheme (unmentioned anywhere of course, but my agent told me), that the speed will go down to 24 kbps if my daily data transfer crosses 100mb. What rubbish!
    Waiting for real Broadband nirvana..

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