Broadband India Forum (BIF) said that India’s digital communications progress will be impacted adversely without the immediate roll-out of fibre in India and urgent steps are required to redress the situation. Only 30% of mobile towers have fibre enabled backhaul today as compared to 65-70% in South Korea or 75-80% in the US, Japan and China.
BIF sees fiber based broadband services as a potential enabler for Digital India and the Government’s BharatNet programme.
One of the key goals of the National Communications Development Policy (NDCP) is ensuring universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen, providing 1 Gbps connectivity to all gram panchayats by 2020, and 10 Gbps by 2022 and ensuring connectivity to all uncovered areas. Fibre will play a key role in enabling this. So far 362,350 km of optical fibre have been laid (till August 2019) connecting 123,840 Gram Panchayats as part of the government’s ambitious BharatNet programme to provide high-speed Broadband connectivity.
Mobile traffic is becoming increasingly data heavy and mobile spectrum will not be sufficient to address this, hence, prioritising and accelerating rights-of-way to ensure quick fibre rollout is imperative, BIF president TV Ramachandran said.
Aruna Sundararajan, former telecom secretary & chairman at Digital Communications Commission(DCC) said that Indian telcom companiess are looking at investing in the Fibre Network development but challenges such as taxes and levies on the industry and the potential high pricing of spectrum may deter them from putting in their efforts.
Fibre to the towers, Fibre in the last mile and Fibre to the home being key factors in shaping the efficiency of the digital communications infrastructure in the country.
The telcos in India fully realise the need to develop the fibre network infrastructure in the country to at least 5-6 times of the present capacity, in order to propel the digital communications infrastructure and services development in the country. While the telcos are clearly intent on investing in the fibre network development, certain challenges such as taxes and levies on the industry, and the potential high pricing of spectrum that is essentially needed to be acquired, may prove a hindrance towards their efforts.
The factors required to unleash full potential of Digital Economy 2.0 are – (a) Large availability of affordable fibre with ease and simplification of procedures for deployment, (b) Availability of adequate harmonised spectrum at an affordable price (c) Reduced and rationalised taxes for the sector, and (d) strengthened competition and pricing regulation to prevent the mobile & internet companies from turning into monopolies.