Landlines set to get a new lease of life | india | Hindustan Times
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Landlines set to get a new lease of life

If you thought fixed -line telephony is dead in India, think again. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is poised to recommend that all villages be linked through optical fibre cables (OFC) so that high-speed broadband can be provided to rural India.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2010 02:44 IST
Manoj Gairola

If you thought fixed -line telephony is dead in India, think again. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is poised to recommend that all villages be linked through optical fibre cables (OFC) so that high-speed broadband can be provided to rural India.

Many services such as video on demand, online gaming, video streaming and IPV need 3-4 Mbps of bandwidth, which is not attainable on wireless. Hence, if OFC is implemented to the villages, it would be possible to deliver services like education, e-health and gaming.

The regulator, which is finalising the national broadband plan, feels it is difficult to provide high quality broadband services through wireless to a large number of subscribers.

An Internet connectivity of above 256 kbps is defined as broadband in India. It has been argued that broadband should be redefined as connectivity speeds in excess of 2 Mbps.

Currently, there is an OFC network of 9 lakh route kms (rkms) in place in the country. In order to cover all villages, an additional OFC network of 20 lakh rkms will be required.

There were about 706.4 million telephone subscribers in the country as on August 31, according to TRAI data. Of this, wireless accounted for more than 95% subscribers, ie, 670.6 million subscribers. The remaining 35.8 million were landline.

What is interesting is that landline subscription is on a decline in the country as customers are switching to mobile telephony.

For example, the landline subscriber base declined from 35.99 million in July 2010 to 35.77 million at the end of August 2010.

Between August 2009 and August 2010, the landline telephones in the country have registered a negative growth of 4.2%, while mobile subscribers have increased by about 46.8%. Taking to the air