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Home > City Resources > Computers and Internet > Broad Band

"If oil has fuelled the global economy for the last twenty years, Bandwidth will do so for the next ten years…," asserts USA-based Gururaj Deshpande, Chairman of Sycamore Networks, while describing the importance of the bandwidth in the Internet arena.

Dewang MehtaWhat does Bandwidth stand for in communication networking? Bandwidth is the measure of the speed of communication on the Internet. The more the Bandwidth, the speedier will be the access, just as the greater the pipe size, the more the water flow! In this case, the more the Bandwidth or Broadband, the faster the data flow.

If data flow is slow, it results in awful dial-ups and slow access to the Internet. Accessibility is slow in India as compared to other countries like USA, UK, Japan and China. The main reason behind this is the lesser Bandwidth that Indian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have. Here in India, the data flow is just 325 megabits per second (mbps) in contrast to 500 gega bits per second (gbps) in USA, followed by UK and Japan, which offer 160 and 120 gbps respectively.

What might be the reason for India to lag behind those net-savvy nations in this regard? Apart from infrastructure, the absence of a national body to support Internet's Broadband access is also the reason. At present, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited [VSNL] is the only body acting on this. Seeing VSNL's inability to cater to the huge Bandwidth requirement of the Indian ISPs, the government has allowed ISPs to import Bandwidth. According to Sukaran Singh of NetMedia India, the existing bandwidth availability is just one hundredth of the overall requirement. He estimates that even a small company today needs 2 to 4 mbps.

How can ISPs serve subscribers better by having greater Bandwidth? With Broadband, subscribers can watch video, film clips and even TV programmes! All this is in addition to downloading audio and video data. Broadband helps a subscriber to go shopping online and even helps in establishing a link between a patient and the doctor who is miles away! In the area of video conferencing and online education, Broadband is the future.

With the meagre availability of bandwidth, India is under-equipped to compete with global giants. Dewang Mehta, President of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), worries that India may lose 30% of its Software exports. He adds that being good at the network management, India may not be able to back global e-commerce because of lesser bandwidth.

His words are evident when potential investors are turning India down to move on to Southeast Asia, which provides unlimited Bandwidth. According to Mehta, many of the Indian websites are being hosted from America with its higher Broadband availability. If the government wants to avoid this flow of sites (which amounts to loss of revenue), it has to act on this. As per the NASSCOM survey, India's requirement is 5 gbps, with less than ten lakh Internet connections at present. But the survey also projects that requirements would go up to 10 gbps by the end of 2000.

Who is taking care of this need? VSNL is buying 155 mbps from FLAG [Fibre-optic Link Across the Globe]. The government has set up a Bandwidth Committee to find the means of getting higher Bandwidth. Apart from these two, many private players like Reliance Group, with its Rs 500 crore optical fibre cable [OFC] network project and BPL, with its Rs 500 crore OFC project, are among many companies which are going to build their Internet base with Broadband in the future.

Source: Outlook/NASSCOM

- Charan CS

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