Broadband, whether wireless or wireline, provides true convergence. It also
helps since providers to use existing infrastructure to increase ARPU, thereby
increasing topline as well as bottomlines of carriers worldwide.
Problems and solutions
- Shift from single to triple play: All operators in India-be they
Bharti, BSNL, or Tata-have been offering only single-play service, i.e.,
Internet access. But service providers have to move from offering Internet
access to offering triple-play service (voice, data, and video). So apart from
data, the service providers should also focus on voice and video. The three
services make the entire offer a deadly combination and makes it necessary for
subscribers to opt for broadband services. Care should be taken to ensure that
the cost of triple-play service is within the reach of the common man. On the
whole, triple-play services offers a lot to the subscribers.
Service providers are still struggling on how to make money on triple play
and how to price it so that it appeals to a larger audience.
- Content, the missing link: Presently, service providers are
offering broadband for Internet access only. Telecom service providers have to
work out models for providing content like video streaming, audio streaming,
personal video recording, and video on demand. Service providers have to work
out the modalities of distribution so that they can offer attractive rates to
their subscribers and tempt them to subscribe broadband services.
- Regulation needs correction: Presently, all the three
services (IT, telecom, and broadcast) work in isolation but broadband brings
true convergence and laws related to information technology, telecommunications,
and broadcasting have to be revisited so that service providers, content
providers, and infrastructure providers can move at a faster pace. Laws related
to copyright, online billing, transmission, and cable TV have to be restructured
to suit broadband. There is lot of ambiguity on VoIP that needs clarification.
Digital rights management, content interconnect, and broadcast distribution
needs to be strengthened
- Reduction in bandwidth prices: The bandwidth prices acts as a
major obstacle for broadband growth in the country. To make broadband
affordable, service providers have to deploy a lot many submarine cables and
also light up the existing capacity. Presently, in terms of private cables, i2i
is the only active one whereas Tata Indicom cable is yet to get security
clearance. Recently, Flag Telecom announced the construction of Falcon, a
multi-terabit, new-generation DWDM submarine cable system providing multiple
landings through the Gulf region, with submarine links stretching to India at
one end and Egypt at the other end. It is slated to be operational by the fourth
quarter of 2005. The SeMeWe-4 cable is also slated to become operational in
2005. All this will help in bringing a lot of international bandwidth into the
country, resulting in reduction of the cost of Internet bandwidth.
Bandwidth, being a major component for service providers, will be the driving
force for broadband movement in the country.
- DSL, a Leading Technology: India is following the global
trend and DSL will remain a leading technology in the country. With incumbent
operator-BSNL and MTNL-along with VSNL and Bharti focusing on DSL services,
it is absolutely certain that DSL will be a dominant technology for a long time.
With around 44 million landline connections in the country, and both the
incumbent operators becoming aggressive, things are moving towards DSL. Some of
the greenfield operators are focusing on FTTH and it looks to be promising too.
But cable TV route is still a long way. Presently, multi service operators (MSO)
are replacing coaxial cable with OFC in the backbone but connectivity to homes
will still take a lot more time and money.
- Wireless, Still a Long Way: Wireless technologies like Wi-Fi
are good for campus networks. Presently, wireless is used more in the local loop
where speeds are reasonable. However, for MAN/WAN applications it is still
problematic. In the main cities, frequency issues are still there though they
get eliminated in the rural areas. Better wireless technologies like WiMax are
being tested but there are issues such as the costs and benefits not appealing
to a large range of customers.
WiMax (worldwide interoperability for microwave access) is looked at as a
broadband technology. An alternative to microwave, Wi-Max provides both
point-to-point and point-to-multipoint access and is ideal for backhaul
connectivity. WiMax is a complementary technology to Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi focuses
on LAN, Wi-Max serves as a MAN technology.
- Security, agenda number one: Broadband helps in bringing real
convergence. Convergence not only in terms of device, convergence not only in
terms of infrastructure, convergence not only in terms of content, but
convergence in the true sense. All this leads to convergence in sectors such as
IT, telecommunications, and entertainment. So, security is a big question mark
and service providers should ensure that all measures are being taken so that
networks are secure at all fronts. Since lot of parties are involved, care
should be taken to implement security measures at each and every possible level,
to provide hassle free services to customers.
- One-stop Solution: Majority of the vendors support
single-play service. But, to provide triple-play service, vendors are working
out modalities and are also working with partners. To provide one-stop
solutions, infrastructure vendors have to tie up with content providers or
Broadband access networks shall be designed to provide reliable, high-speed
Internet connectivity and other value-added services such as VPN, video
multicast, and video on demand to customers. The main components of a broadband
infrastructure are: broadband remote access server (BRAS), gigabit and fast
Ethernet aggregation switches, digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAM),
subscriber service selection system/center (SSSS/SSSC) and associated servers
for AAA, LDAP, network management system, provisioning applications, performance
monitoring applications, element management systems, and configuration
For triple-play services one has to also deploy content delivery networks and
also IP networks. All this has to be integrated with the billing system to give
the desired QoS.
CDN is a service which enables Internet infrastructure to efficiently run a
website with large amounts of content. Broadband content providers who would
benefit from the use of CDN typically have a high level of traffic with music or
video content, requiring large capacities. CDN providers would be in-charge of
optimizing the running of data centers and servers for the website operations of
- ADSL: ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line and it
allows copper pairs to be used for providing a broadband connections. ADSL
provides always-on Internet connection that is automatically established once
the PC and ADSL modem are switched on. So, one can access Internet as well as
telephone calls simultaneously. ADSL is also the most robust and the most mature
of all broadband technologies. Incumbent operators in India have deployed ADSL
- FTTH: Fiber to the home (FTTH) is a most ideal technology and
both greenfield operators (Reliance and Tata) are deploying it or are in the
process of doing FTTH in the top 100 cities to begin with. In the next phase
they will spread out to smaller cities. With large a backbone already being
deployed by operators, it makes all the more sense to deploy fiber in the last
mile and leverage on convergence content.
Using FTTH one can provide all-in-one services (voice, data and video) and
all of this can be transmitted across the same optical fiber. This requires
connecting terminal devices such as telephones, PCs, and TV to an optical
network unit (ONU) installed in each household. The optical network unit
delivers high performance, but service providers in India should bring down ONU
prices so that they can get subscribers easily.
One of the challenges in using FTTH is the coverage area. Even residential
blocks need lots of permissions for wiring the building. So, service providers
always weigh the administrative costs with respect to the number of subscribers
they plan to get in a particular residential area. Service providers start
marketing as well as deployment at the same time but all this takes time. The
other challenge is how to make the content attractive so that people can migrate
from ADSL to FTTH.
- CATV: In developed economies, CATV is ideal for broadband but
in countries like India it is still a dream. Some MSOs do provide Internet
access but real broadband speed is still a long way to away. With lot of mohalla
(neighborhood) cable operators distributing broadcasting services in their
respective mohallas, there is a need for consolidation in the cable industry
before CATV is expanded to provide broadband services. And a lot of capital
investment is also required.
Presently, CATV operators use OFC in the backbone but OFC in the access part
is still a long way to go. Using cable modems or set-top boxes one can offer
broadband services through CATV.
- Wireless LAN: Presently, wireless LAN (WLAN) hotspots have
been deployed in public places like restaurants, cafÃ©s, and convenience stores
as well as airports. Presently, the average speeds are in the range of 5 Mbps
but this is going to increase in the future. Presently, WLAN does not have a
business model where it can attract a large number of subscribers to become
- Metro Ethernet: Presently, there isn't any successful
worldwide model that is extensive in nature. It does have limitations in terms
of distance and is good for high-end subscribers, mainly in the corporate world.
It is easy for backbone but has lot of problems for last mile.
- G-PON: Gigabit-passive optical networking, (G-PON) technology
can be used to extend cheap fiber links within metro networks. Presently, due to
cost, no one is suggesting G-PONs for residential fiber. G-PON offers blazing
speeds making it ideal for triple-play suites of voice, video, and data services
for service providers. Its use of Sonet framing enables providers to link native
TDM and voice connections into the PON without adding IP.
Service providers can offer a range of services to all types of users, from
end users to corporate users. Users can even mix-and-match services from the
entire suite of services available.
Basic Internet: A base-level service for entry-level customers. Apart
from broadband Internet service, one can also access a lot of other services
such as: high-speed Internet access, multicast, video conferencing,
video-on-demand, and gaming.
services: It allows dialup, remote-access users to access their private
networks securely over the backbone infrastructure. The network shall support
both client-initiated VPN as well as network-initiated VPN. So, service
providers can provide IP-VPN as well as MPLS-based VPN services.
RAS network in conjunction with the IP-MPLS network shall provide VPDN
services to its subscribers whereas RAS networks in conjunction with IP-MPLS
network shall provide extension of the MPLS-VPN services to its subscribers.
With this service, leased-line-based, MPLS-VPN service providers shall be able
to extend VPN to their users connecting them through remote access as well.
Wholesale services: This service allows infrastructure to be retailed
to other service providers for ISP and VPN services. Here, data ports that are
managed by one service provider are to be used by another service provider. The
wholesale service provider leases its ports for other service providers, who do
not want to setup and manage their own networks.
Service Delivery/Assurance Parameters
Service Delivery/Assurance Parameters
While opting for a particular vendor, service provider should see whether
vendors are up to the mark for service delivery as well as service assurances.
In service delivery, service providers should look into parameters like
inventory management, configuration management, provisioning support, and
service usage support. In service assurance, service provider should look into
fault management, performance data collection support, resource utilization data
collection support, and QoS assurance support.
Service delivery parameters.
Inventory management support involves maintaining a record of all components
that are installed in the network to support provisioning of services. It
includes collection of locations, quantities of equipment, model numbers, serial
numbers, versions, installation dates, and others.
Configuration management support helps in complete control of network
resources, topologies, and redundancies and includes the installation and
turn-up of new equipment resources; it may include the assignment of resources
to trunk routes or service areas, the control of equipment, and network
Provisioning support involves creation of specific connections and enabling
of specific network features and the assignment of these to a specific
subscriber for an extended period. The connections and features may take into
account or be determined by a quality of service level that is guaranteed to the
Service usage support involves measurement of the usage of the network
resources by the various subscribers; this is the basis for billing.
Service assurance parameters.
Fault management support helps in monitoring of the network resources to
detect malfunction, preempt failures, and detect faults. After faults are
discovered, the vendors must troubleshoot, repair, and restore the network as
quickly as possible. Fault management ensures that service remains available
even during downtime.
Performance data collection support involves periodic collection of quality
metrics that characterize performance of network resources over service
intervals. It also facilitates visualization of trends that can indicate
periodic or gradual degradation of physical resources.
Resource utilization data collection support helps in collection of data on
the level of utilization of network resources assigned to subscribers. This data
can be used to see whether the product matches to the service characteristics.
Using this tool, service provider s can forecast demand and also provide QoS
QoS assurance support ensures that the quality metrics characterizing network
performance remain within the agreed limits. It requires proactive monitoring of
the network fault, performance, and utilization parameters to preempt any
degradation in service quality.
Online Games: Presently, in India, the number of game players are
limited and service providers should promote gamers. The always on broadband
connection, players need not worry about communication charges if they charge as
per usage and even industry has to promote games in local languages.
Digital photos: In India, digital camera phones and mobile camera
phones sales are increasing. And after clicking the pictures, people like to
send them to their family and friends. Majority of camera phone users send
pictures through fixed network, via e-mail or put it on the website and this
could be a main reason why they may switch to broadband.
publishing: Presently, the concept of selling electronic books is still a
concept but can be looked as an interesting application from broadband
viewpoint. Users can download e-books on their network PCs so that they carry
them when they are on the move. This concept can pick up if there is
Video-over broadband: Video streaming on the Internet has been
available for some time. However, with an increasingly large proportion of
Internet users subscribing to broadband, there is a momentum for video viewing
over the Internet. Almost all the service providers should launch a broadband
portal where they distribute video and audio content.
IP-telephony: Making inexpensive calls is a killer application for
broadband. Presently, regulation restricts it but once it is allowed, service
providers will make money from it. They will target video-IP telephone service
for business and education, with applications such as video conferencing,
telemedicine, and distance education.