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Make Broadband as a utility : Min.KT Rama Rao writes to Manoj Sinha

Minister KT Rama Rao writes to Manoj Sinha regarding make Broadband as a utility.Following is what he wrote.

Broadband has started to become a basic necessity in our country.   More and more people in our country have started to depend on broadband for sharing of information, for communication, and for viewing of media content, including news channels.  UN has recently suggested that a country could increase its GDP by increasing its broadband penetration.  The access to Internet, through PC, Laptop, Mobile, Smart TV, has now become an extremely important tool to bridge the gap between the privileged and underprivileged in our country.  Also, it has become an important medium for the citizens to exercise their rights, avail basic services, and obtain vital information.  It has become the responsibility of the Government to ensure that internet access is universally available.

The last twenty years saw an amazing growth in mobile penetration, primarily for voice, and then later for broadband.  However, wireless technologies are not able to compete with the increase in demand for high speed broadband by the increasing subscriber base.  While the maximum speeds delivered over wireless are increasing incrementally, the demand for high speed broadband is growing exponentially.  Therefore, a reliable, secure, scalable wireline solution such as optic fiber to every home is one of the most preferred choices for our country to deliver broadband, cable TV and voice to each and every home.

A country wide implementation of a broadband network is complicated, and is riddled with challenges, most significant of which are a universal Right of Way, and the last meter connectivity problems, both of which are mired in a labyrinth of rules and permissions from the Governments.  These challenges can only be solved with active intervention and participation of the Government.  Therefore, it has once again fallen upon the role of the Government, both Central and State, to become a vital stakeholder in the implementation of broadband networks.

We applaud you for the BharatNet initiative undertaken by the Central Government.  Following the State-led model under BharatNet, Telangana State has created Telangana Fiber Grid Corporation Limited to build a broadband network reaching every home, government office and institution.  To do this, we are riding along Mission Bhagiratha program of our State which connects homes with tap water connection.

We are of the understanding the recently held Telecom Commission meeting has cleared TRAI’s recommendation that mandates every building plan to have a broadband cable duct, and that a completion certificate to the building should only be given if it has incorporated such duct in the building. We strongly support this recommendation and request you to ratify this to make it law of the land so that the last meter connectivity issues are resolved.

We request for your intervention in directing Ministry of Urban Development to give similar directive to all State Governments to implement and make broadband as a utility and make it as a part of conduct to give clearance /completion certificate to only those buildings having duct for broadband in place.

We expect that the above categorization of broadband service as a utility and mandating duct laying in building will pave the way for an unprecedented and exponential increase in broadband penetration in our country.

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