Internet Exchange: TRAI Turns Proactive

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Despite numerous efforts made by the government and the industry, the usage

of Internet in the country is still at a dismal level. According to ISPAI, the

growth rate in the subscriber base which was as high as 54 percent per quarter,

during the period April 1999 to March 2001, is on a constant decline and had reached as

low as 8—9 percent during the quarters ending June, September and December

2001. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its recent report,

has made an attempt to address this issue and recommended various steps to drive

the growth of Internet in the country.


Based on inputs from the Internet Task Force, the TRAI report suggests

setting up of the much-needed Internet Exchange

Points (IXP) in the country to

be named National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) for better utilization of

international bandwidth, better service quality and as an incentive to host

Indian content in India. "The setting up of ‘NIXI’ will result in

various tangible benefits for Internet users as well as for the country. The

cost of the Internet connections and bandwidth would be reduced and

quality-of-service improved, resulting in spread of Internet in the country and

increased customer satisfaction," says TRAI. NIXI will also result in a

better Internet infrastructure in the country and saving of foreign exchange on

international bandwidth. This in turn will result in increased Internet

penetration and the overall development of e-commerce and economy.

The 10 Recommendations

Establish Internet exchange in India for routing the domestic traffic within the 

Enhance availability of cheaper access devices and low-cost indigenous PCs as well as the Internet-enabled second-hand PCs
Policy initiatives like treating ISP services at par with telecom infrastructure, permitting co-location, bringing down capital and operation costs of ISPs to encourage the industry as well as to benefit the users
De-licensing of 2.4 GHz (ISM band) for low-power outdoor usage for last-mile Internet
Usage of alternative access technologies like cable TV network and W-LANs as well as the simultaneous provision of Internet access along with voice in the local loop
Implementation of e-governance and provision of citizen services through Internet to encourage its wider usage
Development of portals and websites in local languages
Direct access to the international submarine cable system by ISPs
Co-location of ISP node at BSO’s premises
Reduction in charges for dial-up access and Internet leased lines

Initially, there are proposed to be four IXP nodes at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata

and Chennai, which will be interconnected in ring architecture. These exchanges

will enable the ISPs to route domestic traffic through the exchanges instead of

carrying it abroad and back to India. Thus, an IXP can improve the efficiency of

the Internet and reduce latency. This will significantly reduce the cost of

Internet services and bandwidth.


TRAI has also suggested that ISPs should be allowed to directly connect to

international submarine cable systems. At present, ISPs are allowed to connect

to an international destination only through VSNL’s gateways. "We pay

seven to eight times more than the international tariffs for bandwidth. TRAI

recommendations, if implemented, will allow us to tie up with other submarine

cable systems," says Amitabh Singhal, secretary, Internet Service Providers

Association (ISPAI). TRAI has also suggested that ISPs should be allowed to

co-locate nodes on exchange premises of basic operators to bundle value-added


Other Recommendations

In order to make Internet access more affordable, TRAI says steps must be

taken to make cheaper access devices like low-cost indigenous PCs. It also says

the telephone charges for using Internet should be lower. Other suggestions to

spread the use of internet include encouraging the use of alternative access

technologies like Cable TV network and W-LANs, formulating policies for

implementing e-governance applications and developing local content and portals.

In order to provide incentive to the ISPs and attract more capital investment

into the sector, TRAI also suggests to bring ISP services under the

infrastructure category.

While most of the recommendations seem to be on the right track, it needs to

be remembered that similar plans mooted in the past have failed to achieve their


Shweta Verma