Telecom and Internet connection costs about Rs 30,000 per line in India, which is affordable only to about 2-3 percent of the Indian population. About 70 percent of the per line cost of the network is contributed by Access Network, from the exchange to the home and offices, while 15-20 percent is contributed by the Backbone network which includes the optical backbone and large exchanges and routers. "The cost must be reduced significantly and policy makers must change policy to allow access networks to be operated by small operators," said Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Head, Electrical Engineering Dept and TeNet Group, IIT Chennai. He was speaking at the seminar on Advanced Communication Technologies -Optical Fiber Networks organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry. A single optical fiber has a capacity of 1 Terabit per second and voice, video and data can be fully integrated in it.
TeNet Group had incubated five product companies at IIT, which had developed a number of access products that brought down the costs from Rs 30,000 to Rs 18,000. Access to home and offices can be provided through Digital Subscriber Loop, Cable Modem and Fixed Wireless. Jhunjhunwala thinks DSL would grow in future and fixed wireless is also here to stay in the rural areas though he thinks cable modem network would not last. According to him, India already has and is installing a powerful Optical Backbone Network.
Reliance Infocom, the company that undertakes and promotes telecom and infocom initiatives of the Reliance group, has made a capital outlay, excluding license fees, of Rs 25,000 crore in the next 3-5 years. It is putting in place 60,000 route-kilometer broadband network connecting India's top 115 cities.
Arthur Andersen has estimated that the Indian Broadband market would provide opportunities worth $3-4 billion by 2004, provided the Government of India set in place a strong regulatory environment and resolves Right of way and other issues.