The government has revised the definition of broadband connectivity, specifying a higher minimum download speed of 2 Mbps (megabits per second), according to a gazette notification.
Earlier, the definition notified by the Telecom Department in July 2013 had benchmarked it to 512 kbps (kilobits per second) as minimum download speed.
"In supersession of the definition of broadband issued vide notification dated July 18, 2013 and after consideration of the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Central Government hereby revise the definition of broadband as follows...," the notification said.
The recent gazette notification went on to say that "Broadband is a data connection that is able to support interactive services, including internet access and has the capability of the minimum download speed of 2 Mbps to an individual subscriber from the point of presence (POP) of the service provider intending to provide broadband service." The notification dated January 25, 2023 has come into force with immediate effect.
As of November 30, 2022, India had about 825.4 million broadband subscribers, of which 793.5 million were wireless broadband users, and the rest wireline.
As per data released recently by the sector regulator, the top five service providers constituted 98.4 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of November 2022.
These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (430.18 million), Bharti Airtel (230.56 million), Vodafone Idea (123.48 million), BSNL (25.85 million) and Atria Convergence (2.14 million).
When contacted, Broadband India Forum President, TV Ramachandran said that the latest move of revising the definition augurs well for broadband consumers, especially those in rural and semi urban areas.
"The broadband penetration has a long way to go when seen in the context of our overall population. The move to raise the definition to minimum download speed of 2 Mbps is a step in the right direction for consumers," Ramachandran said.
In fact, in August 2021, TRAI had recommended that "definition of broadband has been reviewed and minimum download speed for broadband connectivity revised upward from the present 512 kbps to 2 Mbps. Based on download speed, fixed broadband has been categorised into three different categories - basic, fast and superfast." As per Ookla's Speedtest Global Index for the month of December 2022, India recorded 25.29 Mbps median mobile download speeds, bettering 18.26 Mbps in November 2022.
"With this, the country has taken a huge leap in its global ranking and is now at 79 position from 105 in November," Ookla said in a statement on January 27, 2023. PTI MBI SHW