Broadband Catalysts

DQI Bureau
New Update



Broadband is growing and will continue to do so, is a clear enough message


The words 'broadband' and 'always connected' are rapidly becoming top

of tongue-or should that be tip of tongue? But what is growing faster, not

surprisingly, is the number of analyst/market forecast reports about broadband.

Just look at the data ticker.

  • According to provisional estimates by Gartner, Asia Pacific fixed line

    broadband connections grew by 50% in 2004. The fastest growing market was

    Thailand, with 1000% growth in subscriptions for broadband, during the same

  • The growth estimate for India is 20 mn subscribers by 2010. A 300 Gbps

    Internet bandwidth demand in India by 2005, is the projection given by

  • Market researcher Frost & Sullivan predicts growth rates of over 93.6%

    for Internet bandwidth, between March 2000 and March 2005, for India.
  • There is also an indication, by another industry study, that India could

    loose out on $22.5 bn in business earnings if it fails to address its

    bandwidth requirements. Given the numbers, the ways and means of enhancing

    broadband penetration in the country are already being implemented.

Now that the policy stuff is over and the services have

started rolling, there will be accelerated growth. The Rs 500 per month offers

will help. And if FTTH (fibre to the home) becomes a reality quickly, we would

see some pretty steep graphs. The existing technologies-DSL, cable, dial up-are

really speaking Team B now. FTTH networks make use of fibre to the last mile and

therefore give on demand a virtually unlimited bandwidth, for high quality

voice, data and video applications.


Assuming that in the next few months, offices and homes are

going to see a substantial increase in bandwidth availability, at lower cost,

what are they going to do with it? What is it that will make us want to stay

more connected? Which are the tasks that will now be performed by digital means?

Much higher use of video conferencing could be one. Some

estimates reveal that professionals spend an average of 40—50% of their time

in traveling to meetings. We cannot beam them there digitally but we can send

their pictures over. Video conferencing holds much promise for saving time and

enhancing productivity. E Medicine could be another one. Dr Devi Shetty, a

prominent cardiologist, regularly consults patients in Kolkata from his

Bangalore-based heart-clinic Narayan Hrudyalaya, over video-conferencing with

medical images (financial

Education is another area of great promise-virtual

classrooms, downloading course material and interacting with educationalists can

become faster and easier. You can become a Harvard graduate through digital

devices without ever going to Harvard! Video, or films on demand, could be

another area.


It must be quickly added that none of these concepts is new.

They have been bandied around for a few years now. Though, easy and inexpensive

availability may make them a step closer to happening. In fact, the greatest

benefits of increased bandwidth may not come from new applications. They may

come from doing more of the same, better and faster. Bandwidth is a crunch at

many places. Enterprises-especially in the finance and banking sector-are

swallowing bandwidth to meet business demands. One such example is IDBI, which

is upgrading its bandwidth by 50% this year to meet the requirements of new

ATMs, branches and applications. Online banking, ticketing, stock trading-or

even plain and simple browsing can do with a few dollops of speed.

The only caution here is that applications increase to fill

the available bandwidth in six months, or less. Hence, today's broadband could

become narrowband very very quickly.

The author is Editor-in-Chief of CyberMedia, the

publishers of Dataquest (with inputs from Saswati Sinha) Shyam