Move aimed at enabling cheaper and good quality Internet services

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Nov. 2

In a bid to improve the quality of services and enable cheaper access to the Internet, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has brought out a consultation paper to improve the effectiveness of the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI). The Exchange was set up for peering of ISPs among themselves for routing the domestic Internet traffic within the country. This was expected to reduce international bandwidth requirement, reduce latency for domestic traffic and cost savings, resulting in better quality of service and reduced charges to customers. However, despite three years of existence it has been observed that only a limited number of ISPs have joined NIXI resulting in sub-optimal utilisation of its infrastructure. "There are approximately 130 active ISPs operating in India; however, only 27 of them are connected to NIXI. The issue comes that should we mandate that all ISPs must be connected at NIXI?" the Trai paper said.

For example, if a Yahoo mail user in Delhi sends an e-mail to his friend in Mumbai, the data may be going all the way up to the US and then re-routed back to Mumbai. This process uses up international bandwidth and adds to the cost of offering services. The idea of setting the NIXI was to keep such traffic within the country. TRAI has also pointed out that presently, NIXI nodes are available only at four metros and many ISPs may not have their operations in these stations. Hence, these ISPs should obtain dedicated leased lines to connect to NIXI, which may be too much of a burden. "Then the issue comes whether India need to set up NIXI nodes at all the State capitals to support such small ISPs. But this will lead to huge investment without any commensurate value addition. Before taking this decision cost benefit analysis, its management traffic growth etc is required," TRAI said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 3, 2006)
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