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TRAI Recommends 2Mbps as Minimum Broadband Speed, Asks Government to Pay 50 Percent of Monthly Charges for Rural Connections

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a slew of recommendations to enhance broadband connectivity in the country, and one of the key suggestions is fixing the minimum download speed for broadband connectivity at 2Mbps. This is four times more than existing minimum broadband speed of 512Kbps that the regulator had introduced back in 2014 as an upgrade to the earlier 256Kbps speed. TRAI also recommends that the government should speed-up fixed-line broadband rollout in rural areas by reimbursing 50 percent of the monthly subscription charges.

In a 301-page document its recommendations to increase broadband penetration in the country. The regulator noted that on the basis of the inputs it received from stakeholders and its internal analysis, it found that the existing 512Kbps speed is “inadequate for accessing even some basic applications” and found that the minimum threshold should be 2Mbps.

“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 2Mbps to an individual subscriber from the point of presence (POP) of the service provider intending to provide broadband service,” TRAI said in its recommendations.

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The regulator also considered categorisation in fixed broadband services based on download speeds, similar to what has been followed in the UK and Europe. It suggested that fixed broadband connections should be classified into three different categories — ‘Basic Broadband’ for connections with download speeds between 2–50Mbps, ‘Fast Broadband’ with 50–300Mbps, and ‘Super-Fast Broadband’ with download speeds of above 300Mbps.

Alongside recommending the minimum speed and categories on the basis of download speeds, TRAI in its document touched upon the need for increasing the penetration of fixed-line broadband in the country. It said that only 9.1 percent of Indian households have fixed broadband, while a majority of residents have mobile broadband as the only source of Internet access.

To improve Internet penetration, TRAI recommends incentivising investment in the last-mile linkage for fixed-line broadband and an interest subvention scheme for capable operators providing wired Internet connections. The regulator also urged the government to create a national portal for Right of Way (RoW) permissions for laying fibre and installing towers.

TRAI also asked the government to subsidise Internet access via broadband for the rural population through a pilot Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme. Under the pilot, the regulator said that the government should consider reimbursing 50 percent of the monthly fixed-line broadband subscription charges of not more than Rs. 200 per month. It also noted that the reimbursement could be processed through e-RUPI that the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) released last month.

Additionally, TRAI recommends that the government expedites auction of available mid-band spectrum of 3300MHz to 3600MHz airwaves and allocate the millimetre wave (mmWave) range spectrum to enhance mobile broadband speed in the country. It also suggested that a centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) should be created by the government to incentivise states and union territories for reforming RoW.

It is important to note that the recommendations made by TRAI are not binding on the service providers. However, the government may consider them and amend related laws.


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Vi Brings New International Roaming Packs With Unlimited Data and Calls Starting at Rs. 599

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Vi (formerly known as Vodafone Idea) has introduced new international unlimited roaming packs for its customers on Monday. New Vi Unlimited International Roaming packs range from Rs. 599 to Rs. 5,999. The former comes with 24 hours validity while the latter offers 28 days validity. Customers travelling to countries like UAE, the UK, the US, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Australia, Thailand, and Brazil can opt for these plans. It offers unlimited voice calling support and data on its roaming networks across travel destinations. The Vi Postpaid Roaming Packs come with an Always On feature that is meant to prevent exorbitant rates while on international roaming even after the expiry of the subscribed pack.

The telecom operator on Monday launched a new range of international roaming packs for customers. The Vi international roaming packs start from Rs. 599 with one-day validity to Rs. 5,999 pack that has 28 days validity. They offer unlimited voice calls and data.

At present, Vi provides roaming services in 81 countries with local service providers. It has also unveiled an Always On feature to make sure that subscribers are not charged excessively even after the expiry of subscribed plans. For example, if travellers who have subscribed to the seven-day Vi Postpaid Roaming Pack, have to extend their stay, they can continue to use their phone for voice, SMS and data, and will be charged standard rates till the user’s usage value doesn’t cross Rs. 599. Upon crossing Rs. 599, the user will be billed Rs. 599 for each additional day that they use the International Roaming facility.

According to Vi, RedX postpaid plan customers of Vi can avail international trip every year with seven days Vi International Roaming Free pack worth Rs. 2,999.


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Ericsson, Deutsche Telekom Says to Use Solar, Wind Energy for 5G Mobile Masts in Germany

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Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom are harnessing the power of the wind and the sun at an energy-hungry 5G mobile site in Germany in an effort to guard against soaring electricity costs.

With already high bills only rising further, energy-intensive European companies are looking for innovative ways to secure reliable, low-carbon energy.

Telecom operators have extra motivation to cut costs as they also need to channel $872 billion (roughly Rs. 67,59,700 crore) globally into the rollout of next-generation 5G networks until 2030, to Morgan Stanley.

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“Energy costs for our sector are around $25 billion (roughly Rs. 1,93,768 crore) per year, probably closer to $30 billion (roughly Rs. 2,32,522 crore), at current energy prices,” Mats Pellbäck Scharp, Ericsson’s head of sustainability, said in an interview. “So it is sort of on the same magnitude as the investment in radio equipment and other things.”

Ericsson said the 5 kilowatt wind turbine and solar modules could theoretically power the entire site of Dittenheim, around 120 miles (roughly 193 kilometres) north of Munich in the state of Bavaria.

Twelve square metres of solar panels have already been operating for a year, supplying about 10 percent of the required energy.

Backup when the wind drops or the sun sets comes from centralised, often fossil-fuel powered, plants via a connection to the main grid.

Scharp said telecom operators can use local renewable energy when market prices are higher — typically during the morning and evening — and rely on the grid when lower demand reduces costs.

The new system could be quickly rolled out to other mobile sites in the future.

Energy costs accounted for around 5 percent of telecom operators’ operating expenditure on average, according to from McKinsey, a figure which is expected to increase as 5G is deployed more widely.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


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Broadcom Said to Be in Talks to Acquire VMware

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Chipmaker Broadcom is in talks to acquire cloud service provider VMware, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Negotiations between Broadcom and VMware are ongoing and a deal is not imminent, the sources said. The deal terms under discussion could not be learned.

The acquisition would further diversify Broadcom’s business away from semiconductors and into enterprise software, following its $18.9 billion (roughly Rs. 1,46,591 crore) acquisition of CA Technologies and its $10.7 billion (roughly Rs. 82,997 crore) purchase of Symantec’s security division in the last four years.

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Bloomberg News first reported the deal late on Sunday. Broadcom and VMware did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. As of Friday’s market close, the market capitalisation of VMware was $40.3 billion (roughly Rs. 3,12,598 crore).

Michael Dell is VMware’s biggest investor with a 40 percent stake as a result of Dell Technologies having spun out VMWare to its shareholders last year, according to Refinitiv data.

Private equity firm Silver Lake, which has previously invested in Broadcom, is VMware’s second largest shareholder with a 10 percent stake, Refinitiv data shows.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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