Friday 11 November 2011

Broad band and Network Congestion

Broad Band is traditionally defined as internet data download speed of 256 Kbps or more per OECD standards. However different countries have different cut off levels depending on economic, social and technological conditions prevailing at the time. As a result, in the US, definition   of Broad Band is data speed of 4Mbps or more while in India, as per the new telecom policy of 2011 it has been increased from 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps. However, the world wide trend is to keep on increasing the data download speed at which it becomes Broad Band.ITU, which is the telecom wing of UN and has about 98 member countries, has provided certain recommendations   for Broad Band, which the governments of the member countries have to keep in mind while formulating their own telecom policies and regulatory framework. These are that fixed line availability in rural and remote areas will be sparse and expensive, therefore mobile broadband will be the preferred technology for meeting the target of 2 Billion Broad band users by 2015, worldwide. Besides, the governments must push Broad band rollout proactively and extend benefits like no limit to market entry, less taxation on broadband and related service and ensuring ample spectrum availability for mobile broadband growth. Overall Broad Band may be promoted as a key development toll.

Availability of Broad Band has certain benefits and the same are listed below.

  1. Entertainment
  2. Means of communication between family members
  3. Skill up gradation/Learning from home/Self Improvement
  4. Employment search and career advancement.

  1. Access to retail customers.
  2. Reduction in transaction costs
  3. Search for raw materials and supplies
  4. Employment facilitation.

  1. E learning/education
  2. Filing returns and paying taxes etc on line.
  3. Travel booking
  4. Promote tourism
  5. Net  Banking

These are just a few and many more will develop as the service improves both in terms of speed and penetration.

Keeping the ITU recommendations and the benefits of broad band the Indian Government has in 2011 announced its new telecom Policy 2011. For broad band, the definition has been changed from 256 KBPS to 512 KBPS and which by 2015 will be increased to 2 MBPS.

Broadband access has been accorded the status of necessity like education and healthcare and the Government will work towards “Right to Broadband access” Affordable and Reliable Broad Band access at 2 Mbps will be provided to all by 2015. Regarding number of users the targets are 175million by 2017 and 600 million by 2020.

Developed countries have Broad Band penetration of 78% as on date and if the Government is targeting 600M users by 2020, it still does not come close to the level of developed countries even 9 years from now.

As on date there are approx 20 million Broadband connections in India using landline and EVDO of Reliance, Tata Photon, BSNL etc. The number of 3G (3G provides both Voice and Data Download at Broad band speed) connections in India today would be approx 15 million taking the total BB subscriber base to 35 Million. The 3G network rollouts are taking place at a high sped all over the country and 3G smart phones and 3G enabled tablets are being introduced and marketed at a high speed and in huge numbers. The prices of smart phones and tablets are also falling and the target of 175 Million by 2017 does seem possible. Also by 2017 LTE networks of Broad band licensees would also be coming on air and that will make the 175 million target feasible.

3G/HSPA networks at present cover only 35% of the world population and by 2017 are expected to cover 80%.

LTE at present is available only to 2% of the world population and is expected to grow to 35% by 2017

Smart phones are so called because they have besides Voice and SMS
  1. PDA capability
  2. Portable Media Playing capability
  3. Web Browsing Capability for standard web pages(not mobile version of web pages)
  4. GPS navigation capability
  5. WI FI capability
  6. Mobile Broad Band capability
  7. Advanced computing ability
  8. Advanced connectivity-2g,edge, 3G, MMS
  9. Camera and associated capability for sending photographs by email/MMS.
  10. Touch screen is a new capability.

Today you can go and purchase a Smart Phone, follow certain instructions and in 20 minutes you can start using all the features of the smart phone. This  is possible because, unknown to you and unseen by you there is an oss/bss system working which has been set up and operated by the service provider. A smart phone, for providing the above facilities generates 5 times as much traffic as a normal phone. Same is the case with tablets. Now when all of the targeted users switch on their devices at the same time the traffic will increase beyond the capacity of the OSS. What will be the result?
  1. Decline in user experience
  2. Unstable internet connection.
  3. Slow download
  4. Delayed reaction
  5. Less productivity
  6. Frustration
  7. Churn

All this is happening today in San Francisco, New York and London. History repeats itself. It will happen in India too (when users are in excess of network capacity) until some proactive steps are taken by Telecom Service Operators today.

To make content reach all corners of India, the government is going to spend Rs 20,000 Crores to build an OFC network which will connect all Gram Panchayats (Village Panchayats) by 2014. After that, all villages and habitats will be connected using OFC or Mobile Broad band, time will tell.

Also the spectrum being used by the defense forces is being released by the Government building a separate network for armed forces by spending 13000 crores separately. This will free the super efficient 700 MHz band which will be used for rolling out the LTE services by the Broad Band service provider companies.

There will be extreme congestion in the last mile access and the following long term steps if  taken NOW  might mitigate the situation.

1.     Shift traffic to congestion free Wi Fi networks in buildings connected by OFC using suitable devices.
2.     Lay more in-ground OFC to rapidly move Radio Access Data to core.
3.     Repalce twisted pair cables with carrier grade OFCwhich is 3 times faster.
4.     Encourage users to install FEMTO cells in their premises.
5.     Encourage creation of Hot Spots connected by OFC.
6.     Planning and ensuring  sufficient back haul capacity at each BTS/NodeB.


  1. Very Informative, a good read to give a broad spectrum perspective on broadband technology. Still not completely convinced with the smartphone definition though.

  2. Insightful post there. Very explanatory for the technology which is a child's play today. Good one.

  3. Very interesting info !Perfect just what I was searching for! "He who spares the wicked injures the good." by Seneca.