we've come a long way from the days of dial-up modems, frequent
disconnects and pathetic Internet speeds to always-on, high speed
connections where you can watch movies and play online games.
You're joking right?
Obviously. The promise of broadband in India still remains unrealised. Sure,
if you've got the money, you can invest in expensive dedicated leased lines,
VSATs and the like for your office or home and experience gut-wrenching
speeds. There are more affordable alternatives: DSL and Cable Internet, both
great technologies that can fulfil the promise of broadband.
But, they don't. These same technologies have let us down. Or to be more
precise their service providers and implementers have let us down.
Early networks supported customers who used bandwidth in the range of
2-4 Kbps. This has changed. An average broadband customer today demands a
minimum of 1 Mbps. So when service providers with older networks try to scale
up to match the high requirements, reliability and performance issues creep in.
It's the classic chicken and the egg conundrum. Should the service providers
ramp up infrastructure for users that don't exist yet? Or should they wait and
get more users before they ramp up their infrastructure, which leads to poor
quality of Service for the existing users.
The egg has hatched and the chicken is nowhere in sight. Users want high
speed Internet access and are ready to pay for it. Especially considering the dial-
up fees they pay to the telecom companies and their local Internet provider in
So are we going to be stuck to our modems forever?
No. A solution is in sight. With the lowering costs of international band-
width and the setting up of national high-speed backbones, the costs of upgrad-
ing infrastructure will become more feasible. But it's going to take some time.
Meanwhile the only 'real solution provider' is that one entity which cur-
rently controls all last mile connectivityyour local cablewallah. India has
a very large cable TV penetrationit's much more th