DoT, regulator differon national broadband network plan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 04, 2011

TRAI objects to BSNL being given mandate to roll out scheme

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has raised various objections to the proposed National Broadband Plan being considered by the Department of Telecom.

The main objection is around DoT's suggestion to appoint Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd as the executing agency for rolling out optical fibre cable network with Government funding.

TRAI has told DoT that such a move could be anti-competitive as BSNL, being a telecom operator, could utilise the money to subsidise its other operations.

No level field

“BSNL is currently one of the service providers. If it is the executing agency, including the maintenance of the network, there is a serious problem of the lack of level playing field vis-a-vis other service providers. This would be critical since the optical fibre network is envisaged as providing non-discriminatory access. There is a serious risk of anti-competitive behaviour setting into the network management,” the TRAI said in a letter to DoT.

TRAI had earlier suggested setting up an independent agency – National Optic Fibre Agency (NOFA) – to execute the Rs 60,000-crore project. DoT, however, wants BSNL to take up the job. The regulator said that the energies of the senior management of BSNL would be diverted away from its core task of managing telecom services. “Already, BSNL has been registering losses in the last few quarters and there is need for BSNL to utilise all its energies in restoring the health of the enterprise,” TRAI said.

Differ on speeds

TRAI and DoT also differ on defining broadband speeds for consumers. While the regulator wants the minimum speed to be increased from 256 kbps to 512 kbps, DoT does not want to specify it in the policy. “It is universally recognised that the minimum speed as per definition of broadband in India is very low i.e. 256 kb per second. What has been proposed by the Authority as part of the National Broadband Plan is a minimum download speed of 512 Kbps immediately and 2 Mbps by January 1, 2015. It is absolutely essential that this definition is adopted; failing which, there will be serious quality of service issues,” TRAI said.

The regulator is also in favour of laying optic fibre cable right up to all villages with more than 500 inhabitants. DoT wants the cable network to reach only up to the village panchayat level. While there are 6 lakh inhabited villages, there are only 2.5 lakh village panchayats

Published on May 04, 2011

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