DoT to PMO: Spectrum scarcity slowing broadband speeds

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 22, 2014


The Department of Telecom has told the Prime Minister's Office that lack of adequate spectrum was the primary reason for slow broadband speeds in the country. The DoT said while mobile operators in other countries have 20-30 Mhz spectrum on an average, in India telecom companies operate with 5-10 Mhz only.

“The demand for new subscriptions is going on increasing day by day. With the advent of new bandwidth hungry applications, sale of smartphones, the scarcity of spectrum has become all the more glaring,” DoT said in a report prepared for the PMO. The PMO had asked DoT to spell out the reasons for low broadband speeds in the county. While countries such as Japan and the US have Internet connections offering as much as 100 mbps, in India users get an average of only 512 kbps.

DoT has said policy should be designed to make available adequate spectrum for mobile operators. This includes a favourable mergers and acquisition norm that encourages consolidation. Spectrum trading and sharing are the other means to ensure that operators have access to spectrum. However the report does not talk about getting agencies like the Defence forces to vacate spectrum. For example, the armed forces has 15 Mhz of spectrum in the 3G band which is lying idle. If this is vacated, operators will get access to more bandwidth.

There are 251 million Internet users in the country, 99 per cent of whom access the Web on mobile devices. Only 14 million users access the Internet using the wireline medium.

DoT has also said location of servers outside the country by major content providers could also be slowing down Internet speeds. It said policies that incentivise Web hosting locally should be put in place.

Published on September 22, 2014

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