Will telecom minister Kapil Sibal support free broadband to all

I am requesting telecom minister Kapil Sibal to plan a broadband bill that could offer India’s needy population the right for getting free Internet and laptop in their homes.

This should boost Congress-lead UPA’s chances in the 2014 polls. This will be the better tool than the food security ordinance that gives India’s two-third population the right to get 5kg of food grains per month at subsidized rates of Rs 1-3 per kg.

Free broadband access and laptop in every home will assist India’s growing youth population to improve the literacy.

The government can get support from the state-run BSNL and Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is planning a nationwide 4G launch, to offer free access. It will receive aid from companies such as HP, Dell, Acer, etc for cost effective laptops.

I am not recommending PC tablets since I feel that laptops will be more feasible for long-term use.

The India government needs the support of private telecom operators to realize the broadband dream since the Bharat Broadband is unlikely to meet its December 2013 deadlines. Bharat Broadband is investing around Rs 20,000 crore to offer broadband to 250,000 villages.

If free broadband has become a reality, the impact will be wider than the controversial food security ordinance 2013.

India has 15.09 million fixed broadband subscribers at the end of April 2013. Yearly growth in broadband subscribers was 8.21 percent during the last one year. Free broadband will also help India meet broadband targets as per National Telecom Policy 2012.

The food security program, which was signed by President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday, will be the biggest in the world with the government spending estimated at Rs 125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tons of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67 percent of the population.

Free broadband will be cost effective than this. But RoI will be better. The result will start reflecting in entire economy of India. If the telecom minister feels that free broadband access will be costly, the ministry should consider this for 10 years. Congress will not be punished by voters, if the party is ready to improve their performance of ministers.

The first casualty is that our rural friends will become more selective when they choose their candidates in 2014 as broadband creates more awareness among Indians.

I am suggesting a free broadband access since 3G / 4G by private operators will not support the demand of Indians.

A research report by Morgan Stanley analysts, the three telecom operators — Airtel, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications — are expected to reach break-even point in 3G business in fiscal year 2015 and 2016. Airtel’s 3G business is expected to break-even only in FY 2016, while Reliance Communications, the # 1 3G operator in India, will reach the point a year earlier. Success in 4G by Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio will be a distant dream.

India’s an open economy. Government should offer free broadband and the result will be better governance.

Baburajan K
[email protected]