07 Nov

Indian Govt. ignoring urban broadband deployments?

broadband.jpg
 
Today, I was reading New Telecom Policy from Dept. of Telecom. Must say I am disappointed.
Everyday I hear a new story on 3G & LTE in India. About wireless we all know that due to super limited spectrum, it’s good only smartphones. Hard to call even LTE as an alternate even to DSL. LTE has yet to come, but still it will hardly compete with DSL in tier 3 cities and rural India. For tier 1 cities like Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and tier 2 cities like Gurgaon, Jaipur – broadband still suffers badly and we all know but just not accepting that wireless broadband is not way out to that.
I am not against wireless broadband. I totally agree to fact that for mass deployment wireless is way to go but I strongly feel that another serious effort is needed in wired broadband connectivity. I am happy to get 2Mbps connection via 3G on my Idea cellular phone, and I don’t really complain for it’s cost because of spectrum crunch and all but I feel super surprised on fact that I get 512Kbps capped broadband on DSL when technically it can go over 16Mbps easily.
It’s hard to comment on how well fiber connections to Gram Panchayats will perform. All we can say it’s good and nice initiative given they don’t create parallel infrastructure. But why Govt. is missing out demand in big cities where wired infrastructure is “decent” or can be made decent (based on demand)?
I don’t see any good efforts being made by Govt. for improving broadband speeds or connectivity by making maximum use of existing copper infrastructure. Working professionals in cities like Gurgaon/Chennai still suffer badly for “decent” broadband while most of them could have given broadband – demand & technology – both of things are there. Just missing willingness on side of Govt. What’s point in FTTH now which “can” give 1Gbps speed given one is ready to pay ~$1500 a month for that sort of speeds?
 
WLW-CanWinstonthepigeonflyfasterthanyoucanse_E27B-racing-pigeon_thumb.jpg
Following (not-so-hard) things can bring real change in broadband:

  1.  Force Govt. telcos to increase speed – start offerings from 2Mbps. It won’t really hurt BSNL/MTNL in long run. Excess and cheap International bandwidth really enables telcos to increase speed by as little as 4-8 times and last mile isn’t very bad either for that much speeds.
  2. Change peering policy and start taking niXi seriously.
  3. Just like telephone call benchmarks, have good benchmarking for routing too which is badly screwed up here.
  4. Change new connection policy for students & working professionals. I know atleast a dozen of friends who want, can afford and would love to have an good wired connection for heavy usage BUT for very strange reason one needs an address proof for new DSL connection (which is hard to get for temporary stay), while nothing like that in wireless datacards connections. This needs to be fixed. Simple, but very major problem.
  5. Unbundle last mile – it’s badly required for growth. BSNL can’t really operate all alone on huge copper infrastructure.
  6. Make BSNL more dynamic in deployments – I never understand what’s point in city wide launch of FTTH when there’s no huge demand, nor BSNL is on huge cash to afford things for fun? But surely, if there’s huge demand in say an society/building in say Bangalore – why can’t BSNL pull up fibers there? Worst, they do have fibers in many buildings but plans are same as one gets in Indian village! What’s the point in capping speeds so badly when technically more speeds can be supported?

 
Private operators can’t do much in this regards. Most of them are doing good in mass deployments which comes into wireless for last mile and backbone capacity to support all this. But Govt. sitting on huge assets of BSNL can really bring change.
How can a $30 android tablet bring change when we don’t have good communication infrastructure to support it?
Hope we will be on faster connection next time you visit my blog! 🙂
 
Fast_broadband1-200x200.jpg

16 Feb

Aircel wifi – a good way out!

You must have seen Aircel’s wifi promo on TV. If not, here’s that
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb5rNcMJHiM
At this – a few of tech news/blogs wondered if we really need wifi in the age of 3G, and upcoming BWA – mobile WiMax and LTE stuff.
Well, a simple and straight answer – Yes, we do need!
We need to remember that 2G, 3G, WiMax or LTE at the end have their own limitations. Firstly, we can’t say much of LTE as it’s very new (even yet under trail launch in US). Talking about 2G – it’s slow and just can’t provide broadband experience. While in case of 3G and mobile WiMax (802.16e) – spectrum remains as issue. If everyone on network start using the way in which services are advertised – networks will just choke up. And everything around us will look lot like….

That’s what happened in US on AT&T’s 3G network due to iPhone. No one really imagined that, but iPhone increased data use by over 5 times which badly hit 3G networks.
One must remember that except in case of mobile WiMax and LTE, all existing 3G technologies like HSDPA, HSPA+ etc most were designed to deliver “broadband experience” to mobile users. With term “mobile users” we primarily mean – cell phone users and laptop/netbook users at some extent – who are travelling and checking mails and doing other light tasks. They were NEVER made to replace existing fixed broadband technologies like DSL, Cable modems, etc.

Now, what’s happening in India is – due to super poor fixed broadband coverage users are tending towards mobile broadband services like Tata Photon, MTS, Reliance net-connect (EVDO based data cards) for their regular broadband needs. In “regular broadband” usage – one just doesn’t checks only email – users tend to download lot of data, tend to share heavy videos, tend to use cloud computing apps like Google docs, Zoho etc which at the end of day – choke mobile networks.

Here’s what we need in India:
  1. Better mobile broadband technologies – extracting maximum out of available (limited) spectrum.
  2. More and more offloading of heavy data users at Public places. Remember that users tend to use more data when they are sitting in a Public place like Airport, bus stand, Railway stations etc.All carriers should consider putting their wifi hot-spots in these public places. These hotspots can be restricted for carriers own network users.
  3. Public wifi hotspots can be back-hauled using existing wired infrastructure of Public or Private telcos in metro cities, or fixed wimax in case of non-metro cities where LOS isn’t a big problem.
  4. Better bundling options – We need better bundling of fixed and mobile broadband connections. Till now – there are not much options available, but I think ISP’s should start bundling datacard with fixed broadband (DSL) eventually having users to use fixed broadband for home/office while mobile broadband when they are out.
  5. Capping seems bit crazy. I wish Aircel had capping of like 500MB for an hour of usage.

 
Well, nice work Aircel guys. It will surely help India with better broadband experience!