chapter  14
28 Pages

Broadband Utilization in the Indian States: Socioeconomic Correlates and Geographic Aspects


Broadband utilization is low in India, compared to the world as a whole and other mid-level developing nations. In 2009, India had 0.6 broadband subscribers per 100 populations, ranking 100 out of 138 nations (Dutta and Mia, 2010). India is behind Indonesia (0.7 broadband subscribers per 100 population), and well behind Brazil (5.9), China (7.7), Russia (9.2), Japan (24.9) and United States (25.8). The nations lower than India in broadband are primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest and least technological continental region (World Economic Forum, 2011). What causes India’s very low broadband penetration rate worldwide compared to the other BRIC nations of Russia, China, and Brazil, and well below even Mongolia and Vietnam? First, there is substantial oversupply of broadband capacity (Dharmakumar, 2010), yet broadband is mostly offered through DSL services at the low bandwidth of only 256-512 kilobits per second (TRAI, 2010). Second, the average monthly fee for broadband in India is among the highest worldwide at US$38, compared to US$19 for China, US$2.12 for Vietnam, and US$1.1 in Hong Kong (Gumaste et al., 2009; Dharmakumar, 2010). The discrepancy of high oversupply with high prices is partly due to the oligopoly situation in international sellers of submarine cable broadband infrastructure (Gumaste et al., 2009). This situation may be somewhat alleviated by more competition, such as the arrival of Pacnet’s suboceanic cable connection to India in 2011 (Dharmakumar, 2010). Other reasons for high broadband pricing include poorly run network operations by ISPs, and lastmile broadband tie-ins that have been neglected or not developed (Gumaste et al., 2009).