Time Warner in US had planned for “metered broadband”. In a country (US), where there is a controversy about bringing the “benefits” of Broadband as an economic stimulus in the times of recession. Time Warner had a ‘brilliant idea” to introduce “metered broadband” with assinine plans to limit the downloads. This is nothing new to Indians. We routinely suffer at the hands of ISP’s with their 1GB “limits”. BSNL had bastardised it long time. Airtel and the other ISP’s followed suit.
Frankly, most of them are re-sellers of the bandwidth. Although, there have been huge capacity layouts in the past couple of years, the last mile has been problematic. There have been attempts made to address this yawning gap by introducing novel technologies like WiMax, this hasn’t caught on given the limited modes of access and the problem with the allocation of frequencies.
For all practical purposes, whatever “infrastructure” has been laid, seems to be “overburdened” with the hordes of users latching on to Torrents or You Tube sites. It hasn’t reached a critical mass with users putting up their antics online, there has been an exponential increase in the users for social networks. This means, pictures and songs and other media being exchanged.
You Tube has made serious attempts to monetise it’s massive bandwidth requirements and signed on deals to put up movies online; all in the hope to popularise the uptake of this interesting medium online. This means a further strain on the already streched resources and a potential nightmare for the telecom companies who don’t want to invest in more resources. It practically means that they would need to put in more money for almost the same bunch of users because Internet uptake is pathetic in this country.
In this backdrop, I don’t emphatise with the ISP’s because their marketing efforts are pathetic. Although, they have a rag tag association (ISPAI) to address their needs and often claim to speak for the consumers, I find no mention about them in the mainstream press. Broadband is essential for shrinking boundaries and I have focussed on the advantages of having the same in my earlier write ups. It means all the more because we need to be able to “kick start” the initiative for free and open access.
The only way I see it coming is from the policy initiatives. This would surely need massive funds for expansion; I would surely praise the efforts of telecom companies being able to promote thin client computing initiatives based on Linux to cut costs and get more people in the loop.
Tough situations call for tough measures. We need imaginative solutions; to think out of the box to promote computing, tax breaks and subsidised broadband access in excess of 2 Mbps. Although, this is utopia but is achievable with scaling of infrastructure.
This brings us back to the issue at hand here today. There was a huge public outcry against Time Warner which was accused of “monopolising” the access to Internet. It claimed that people would “misuse” it for sites like YouTube; but if you can’t provide the necessary infrastructure, get out of business. Simple. One can’t just turn off or turn on the cap; people pay money to access regardless of the restrictions.
This has far reaching implications on issues like Net Neutrality. Unfortunately, Indian media is solely focussed on issues which it considers as “sellable” or expects a “reader/viewer” interest. Unless, there is a decent platform to debate or talk about such issues, we cannot really expect a dramatic improvement in the state of affairs.
I challange anyone of the ISP’s or their representatives from the industry for an open debate and I gurantee facts and figures to downplay them. They have the Government of India to blame but their rag tag association has hardly helped the matters to make a sincere and honest efforts to ameliorate the matters.