India’s Telecom regulatory authority, TRAI, has made it compulsory for all the Broadband providers to at least ensure a minimum speed of 512Kbps after users exhaust their initial data quota. The mandate also asks the service providers both fixed and wired to clearly notify the users about the throttled speed instead of masking it with the unlimited internet shenanigans.
The ruling is surprising since TRAI had earlier recommended a minimum of 2Mbps and has also issued a consultation paper regarding the same. In fact, earlier this year Airtel opposed the recommendations that prescribed 512Kbps as minimum broadband speed and instead explicitly stated that “service provider should be free to throttle the speed to 64Kbps after the expiry of assigned data limit to the customers.” That said Govt owned BSNL has increased its FUP to 1Mbps as opposed to the earlier 512Kbps.
While we have been associating broadband with high speeds and reliable connectivity in actual it seems to differ, at least in India. In the United States, the FCC has denounced the DSL providers as broadband providers and has set a minimum speed of 25Mbps. The highest minimum speed, however, is set by South Korea at 29 Mbps. As pointed out by the recent Akamai reports India has been languishing behind in the APAC region with speeds averaging 3.5 Mbps. With the ever-increasing content consumptions and the mushrooming of streaming services like Netflix, it is only fair that the minimum speed is increased.
It is surprising to know that many of the ISP’s have been providing internet packages with throttled speed of 256Kbps. Furthermore, the narrowing gap between the minimum speeds for the fixed line and the wireless nips out any incentive one would have by going in for a fixed line. India has primarily been a mobile-first country with the wireless broadband connections pegged at 148.93 million overshadowing the 17.49 million wired broadband subscribers.
The bottom line is that the 512Kbps minimum limit is simply not enough. The regulatory authorities should vie for a minimum speed >10Mbps and should formulate a rigid framework for the ISP’s. Also, timely speed audits on the wired broadband players are something that will bolster up the efforts.