The next revolution in the IT and communications sector should be in broadband, which will help the government connect with the population and social schemes to percolate down to the intended beneficiaries, Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar said.
“After the telecom revolution, which helps India to reach around 850 telecom subscribers, now it’s time for a broadband revolution, which not only will help the government to reach to the poorest of the population, but will also create new jobs and will help in percolating the social schemes of the government to the ‘last door’,” Chandrashekhar said in a broadband function organised by CMAI.
According to telecom regulator TRAI, the present data on the number of broadband subscribers only indicates individual connections, without throwing any light on the actual number of users accessing the broadband services or the usage pattern, as well as the hindrances and barriers to adoption and usage of broadband.
Broadband growth has not only been slow, but is also biased in favour of urban areas. More than 60 per cent of broadband subscribers live in the top ten metros and tier-I cities, while more than 75 per cent of the connections are in the top 30 cities.
Supporting the cause, the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, Sam Pitroda, also said, “The next phase is all about broadband, connectivity, utilisation and innovation on this front.”
Further, Pitroda added that broadband services can add 1 or 2 per cent to the growth of the GDP and have the potential to enhance the quality of life though its social applications.
The penetration of the internet and broadband has remained low in the country, mainly due to the limited spread of wireline telephones and non-availability, so far, of broadband technologies.
The number of broadband subscribers at the end of March, 2005, stood at 0.18 million and it increased to 12.12 million at the end of May, 2011, TRAI data reveals.
There is an urgent need for a nationwide broadband network to connect education, healthcare, banking and other services infrastructure to the entire population, thereby realising the objective of inclusive growth.
“This sector not only provides ample opportunity, but also throws up the challenge to implement this in order to reach the people who really want this (broadband services), which can help the government to reach to them,” Minister of State (MoS) for IT and Communications Milind Deora, who is in charge of telecom, said.
Even the MoS for IT and Communications Sachin Pilot, who is in charge of IT and the Postal Department, said, “Government is aware of the importance and the reach of the broadband services and we (government) are doing our part in order to bring a broadband policy in place so that it can be used to change the lives of many people.”