The Government of India cannot be trusted to do anything good for it’s citizenry. Primarily, it is in the process of making itself unaccountable for public loot. So whenever draft proposals come in, the media whips up a frenzy.
At best, the draft proposals sound what has been proposed; but the industry and their associations would definitely seek to water it down. Any customer “friendly” variant is not welcome for obvious reasons. In any case, the draft policy (specifically on broadband) needs specific inputs rather than broad sweeping generalizations that cannot be fulfilled in the current scenario. The Government of India also needs to do away with self styled experts and focus on basics to understand the need to encourage the adoption of broadband.
Let me be honest. I haven’t read the draft proposal in it’s entirety. So I would prefer to link it to someone who has done it. As luck would have it, I stumbled again on Medianama with their take on the proposed policy changes. I would only highlight the issues that I feel need to be addressed regarding broadband alone.
1) Definition of Broadband : Always on with a minimum speed of 2 Mbps and not as proposed to be changed in the year 2015. This is because with the change at the centre, the policy decisions invariably get stuck in the red tape. The whole bunch of users have been clamoring for 2 Mbps as the basic benchmark in order to utilize the actual benefit of the broadband.
Why? Because 256 kbps is pathetic. You cannot video chat effectively. You cannot stream media applications. You cannot do zilch. Still, the definition remains stuck at mere “doubling” of the speed. 100 Mbps is a promised pipe dream.
2) There have been effective proposals for setting up interlink peer exchanges in India to replace NIXI. An excellent blog post (not written by me but Mathew), clearly details the methodology to achieve this. The highlights (sic):
NIXI is supposed to be a non-profit organization (that part I believe), however it allows ISPs to essentially charge each other tariffs of Rs25 per GB. At 1gbit/s, with an in:out ratio of 3:1 and utilization of 80% or so, this comes out to a total monthly bill of Rs44 lakh, or about Rs17/GB.
That’s a hell of a lot of coin, considering that 2 months of that could pay for a year’s supply of bandwidth to Singapore. Yes, a year (well, a single STM-1 @ 155mbit/s, anyway, but the cost still only works out to about Rs13/GB).
As you can imagine, if I, as an ISP, can save Rs4 PER GIGABYTE, I’m damn well going to,
otherwise I have to pass that on to you – the consumer.
3) The proposed opening up of the last mile access by wireless is a useless idea. Wireless or any of it’s iterations cannot, I repeat cannot be relied on for data intensive applications. There is no draft proposal for public access of Wifi’s bankrolled by the municipal corporations. Wifi’s can be used for another lofty purpose. To route the mobile network calls in hard to reach areas. Another brilliant stroke would be to encourage the uptake of the VoIP.
4) Even if you have 100 Mbps rolling in a shiny FTTH all the way up to your home, the lack of “real application” is a dampener. What would the mass of humanity rolling in this country use 100 Mbps for? Facebook? There is no concept proposal for encouraging the uptake of the broadband applications, for fostering a community of developers, lack of clear focus on the e-commerce, overt valuations of the existing firms and the works. Granted that this is chicken and egg situation, 100 Mbps broadband networks are mere pipe dreams till the time there is focus on backing up a reliable infrastructure and true “unlimited access”.
5) Unbundling of the last mile access: The PSU’s are like wives. You can’t live with them. You can’t kill them. Simple. However, it does not mean that the last mile should be unbundled without having a proper oversight of the sector. I had believed earlier that proper competition on the same copper would effectively bring down the prices. However, this is fraught with it’s own hassles. The copper is pubic property and I am sure that anyone investing money would extract his own pound of flesh in terms of ownership of the cable. (This one is a retort to Medianama).
This should not be encouraged. Instead, the companies need to be given incentives to invest in the cable, peer through a separate exchange, a unified license to allow them VoIP applications, create infrastructure for niche products. For example, there could be an ISP specifically for gaming. Let it have the best response times in terms of ping. A separate company for IPTV applications. A different company for say, tele-medicine solutions with end to end infrastructure. Back it up with rural broadband initiatives and then you have customized solutions for different segments.
Let these marginal players slug it out with the established partners. Let them expand the pie. Mobile telephony did not happen overnight but by relentless onslaught of the advertisements to create a need for the product. I am not a big fan of the mobile applications, but that does not bias my outlook for the explosive growth, even though the numbers are disputed crap.
Broadband is a niche application. The draft proposals are mere eye wash and they need to be understood in their context before we bleat and crow about being a fucked up IT “superpower”.
What I agree with Medianama is the crap “fair usage policies”. But I have already stressed on the “unlimited” access. This is hardly going to be achieved and despite claims by fucktards of downloading 100, 500 or even 1000 GB is hogwash. As far as the net neutrality goes, the “faster access” to certain businesses is a huge controversial issue. The ping times in this country are so awful that is hardly going to matter.
Hence, all the more the sarkari buffons need to be given a pat on their asses for making some effort to think over the issues. With all due respect, I am also uploading the critique to their proposals. I am not sure who is going to read them, but for sure, this is better than just sucking up and doing nothing.