In a historic step forward in public interest and to provide a major fillip to broadband uptake, the government has revised the definition of broadband connectivity and upgraded the minimum download speed fourfold. The earlier definition notified by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in July 2013 had benchmarked 512 kbps as the minimum download speed. The new revised definition pegs the minimum download speed at 2 Mbps.

This is a huge step by the government to improve the service experience, enhance consumer interest and help raise the overall quantum of per capita data consumption. It will particularly benefit rural and suburban areas, and metro cities, where the majority of consumers use heavy video and data-rich applications.

Industry stakeholders also believe that this measure will go a long way in bridging the digital divide in oft-ignored small towns and smaller urban settlements struggling with weak connectivity, thus taking forward the cause of creating a “Digital India”.

However, India still has a long way to go in terms of broadband connectivity. The 2 Mbps minimum download speed may not be cognisant with the modern broadband era, as much higher speeds are needed for a satisfactory experience with applications such as telecommuting, file downloading, video conferencing, and streaming video – both standard definition and high-definition. Further, India has a lot of catching up to do compared to global markets such as the US, where the Federal Communications Commission has already prescribed a minimum broadband speed of 25 Mbps. Bangladesh, too, has prescribed a higher minimum broadband speed of 5 Mbps.

Now, with the government taking the first step by revising the definition of broadband speeds to a minimum of 2 Mbps, we can expect further measures to improve the overall broadband ecosystem in the country.