Friday, December 10, 2004

Broadband policies in Pakistan and India

A nice primer on where India and Pakistan stand vis-a-vis their broadband policies and what the faults/improvement opportunities of those are.

Why is a broadband policy important?

As the Pakistani document explains, “A broadband connection can be used for two way applications that would not be viable with a slow and unreliable ‘dial up’ service such as online classrooms and health clinics where the teacher and student and the doctor and his patient can see and talk to each other through their computers.” In other words, for middle class, literate people, a dial-up connection may suffice, but for applications that would make a significant difference in the lives of the poor and illiterate, a broadband connection is a must.


Both India and Pakistan have set their sights very low, when it comes to defining broadband speed, considering even 128kbps to be broadband. While this speed is good enough for internet telephony, which both countries severely restrict, it does not suffice for quality video streaming, and other multimedia applications. India’s telecom establishment is so paranoid with regard to Internet telephony, that even in the definition of broadband, this technology is sought to be restricted. Pakistan seeks to deny broadband users unrestricted access to internet telephony as well, buried under section of the policy.

What stands in the way of rapid broadband penetration? “The subscription prices for broadband in Pakistan are 60 times higher than in Korea, as the price of 100 KBps in Korea is US$0.25 per month, as compared to the minimum of US$15 per month in Pakistan. However considering the respective purchasing powers of the two economies, this translates to 1600 times higher prices in Pakistan.” Coupled with high prices are “high installation and CPE costs, and low reliability and quality of service.”


Read the complete article here.

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