Singularly, we can call 2005 as the “year of broadband”. Far from a crappy dial up we have jumped to somewhat tolerable Internet access. Even if it is kbps.
BSNL has the lion’s share. Of course, it’s charging the customers a “monopoly tax”. With almost next to nil customer service to boot and “glorified son in laws” at the helm of affairs, there isn’t much of choice. The exisiting players are content to call whatever access speeds as “broadband”.
This year saw the high profile exit of Satyam from Sify. It was clear from the outset that they had been “misguided” to the latent demand of access. Indeed, demand had been there but it can be best described as a “F***ed up exprience” for both customers and Satyam. Satyam is a NASDAQ listed company, I had no idea as to why were they persisting with the huge amount of negative press. In a way it’s good for them because it was clearly a lost case.
MTNL and Airtel too decided to go hog the DSL space. I believe that the jury is all out for Airtel. I am excited about the “unlimited” plans. Without any hassle of usage stats or counting your upload/ download limits. However, they could have easily taken the initiative and set the tone and pace for the other companies to follow. It wouldn’t have cost them much to offer higher access speeds thus raising the stake for BSNL and MTNL. The main advertising campaign was for the “low monthly rentals” which sent the media “anal-ysts” (pun intended) in raptures. Oh my God! Broadband at never seen before rates! Without realising the fact that your total cost of ownership is far more than what is advertised.
The regulator slept over. Advertising Council slept over. Consumer organisations slept over. In this business of “sleeping together”, the end consumer is at a loss. Kbps level speeds means that promised goodies like IPTV and Video on Demand would take almost forever. Perhaps by end of next year. As BSNL cries hoarse about signing up “millions of consumers” for “broadband”, it’s the crappy Chinese modems that’s runing the day for the consumers.
What holds the key for next year? One word. Reliance. If the promised venture comes through, we might see Microsoft’s set top boxes on our TV’s. Of course, Reliance is screwing up on the same. In a way, it could have developed a set top box itself, loaded up Linux and “Freevo” on that and made money. Further, it could have dictated the prices for the set top boxes; while others would have slugged on proprietary formats. Another instance of wrong planning and implementation. Well, it is rumoured that Microsoft might seed it’s virus in India soon via TV’s. Let’s see how things work out.
BSNL might improve it’s access or play a long term game by providing fibre optic connectivity. It already has a head start and in the broadband slugfest, it’s surely going to win the game. Atleast in the near future. Others are just hanging on waiting for the big elusive “O”. Broadband nirvana maynot happen soon. Not in the year 2006 for sure.