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India's low broadband penetration a concern: Trai Chairman

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Telecom regulator Trai today said has accelerated transactions in the country, but expressed concern over trailing nations like and at the level of broadband connectivity, a key component of infrastructure.

"There is one area where we need to do a lot of work and that area is broadband connectivity," Trai Chairman, RS Sharma said.

He said at an event on eGovernance and organised by that as per a white-paper, "broadband penetration in was 7 per cent based on certain parametres".

On the other hand, it had pegged Thailand's broadband reach at 36 per cent, Singapore's at 98 and that of at around 35-36 per cent, he said.

was, in fact, ranked behind and Vietnam in broadband penetration, he added.

"This is really a matter of concern...We are not in a great shape as far as broadband penetration is concerned ...will have to ride on this infrastructure and if we don't have robust and reliable infrastructure, we are not going to achieve the objective of India, of having a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy," Sharma said making a strong case for using cable TV for broadband delivery.

Broadband through cable TV - beaming into millions of Indian homes - would only require tweaking of the policy and Trai has already given its recommendation to the government in this regard.

"Our ranking will zoom up. There are millions of cable TV homes and by 31 December all these will be digitised. That can be leveraged. In many of developed countries like US and in Europe nearly 50-60 per cent of robust broadband is coming from cable TV. We need to do that," he said.

Highlighting the role that Bharat Net project will play in strengthening the infrastructure, he said industry, government and the regulator will have to work together in taking higher than its ranking of 131-132 among 155 nations in ICT penetration.

On being a catalyst for digitisation, Sharma said: "Certainly, in the last two weeks or so there has been an acceleration transactions."

Cashless society or, in the short term less-cash society, is the aim of India, he said, adding that "this is accelerating already".

Both Trai and Telecom Department called for making the mobile short code or USSD facility - used to avail banking services on feature phones - more simple and user-friendly.

"We need to work on push USSD, where the burden of pressing keys and pulling codes should move from the payer to merchant," Telecom Secretary JS Deepak said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 30 2016. 15:22 IST