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Monday, January 12, 2004

Welcome speed with broadband
Sandeep Kumar Sharma

Illustration by Sandeep JoshiTwo years ago, broadband came to India. Still it has not been able to get popular due to a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a bit expensive and many persons do not know about this technology.

Broadband refers to high-capacity, high-speed data transmission network that allows people to access online content quick and dynamically, via always-accessible Internet at work or at home. In such a transmission, several channels can be transmitted using optical fibre, besides other mediums. Broadband has the capacity to provide the Internet speed at more than 200 KBPS that is nearly four times faster than the dial-up connection, which operates at 50 KBPS. Many companies are attracting customers by providing ‘always online connections,’ which simply means that a person is always connected to the Net. Besides being fast, the other advantage is that the conventional telephone lines need not be engaged saving the botheration of paying telephone bills.


There are three major technology platforms that make broadband feasible. They are:

1. Digital subscriber line (DSL): Digital Subscriber line or DSL is a technology that uses copper wires to transmit a high volume data at a very high speed. This technology allows the transmission of information (voice, video and data) at an incredible speed of 1.5 MBPS. Basically, it uses a dedicated circuit form customer’s house/office to a high speed network. DSL providing companies use hubs in different parts of the city where they give the connection through copper wires. This cable ends up at DSL Modem, which is connected to computer through a USB port. This type of high bandwidth connection can be easily shared among different computers. Thus using a network card, you can share the connection and make its effective use. There’s no dialing up or waiting caused by busy signals. There are various forms of DSL, which are as a group referred to as xDSL.

2. Cable modem: The most common medium used for broadband technology in India is the coaxial cable. So one can get Net access through the coaxial cable that can also deliver 100 odd TV channels. By using a cable modem, which connects to the cable connection using a coaxial cable, one can get a dedicated Net connection. The cable modem might be a bit expensive. In such a case, the cost can be easily shared with others. Thus all PCs in a complex will work like a network on a single cable modem. In such type of sharing, the speed of Net may come down as many persons use the same incoming bandwidth. One also gets an insecure environment as it gives an open invitation to hacking.

3. Wireless (satellite): This is the most expensive mode in India and it is available at 800 odd locations. In this case, one has to install a satellite-dish at terrace. The speed one gets is, however, incredible. This type of technology is most suitable for corporate sector.


The DSL technology provides faster data rates than the ordinary dialup access, which is 56 KBPS (maximum) only. DSL promises speed up to 8 MBPS (downstream) and 1.5 MBPS (upstream). Now, we look at the major advantages of the broadband technology:

a. High-speed Internet access: As discussed earlier, the speed is the major merit in the broadband-technology. High efficiency with strong Internet backbone is the plus factor of this technology.

b. Always-on Internet connection: Your home or working-place is always connected to the Internet. You don’t have to wait for reconnections, for ‘route-busy’ or any type of authentication.

c. Flexible and affordable pricing options: One has got choice of various cost-efficient service plans for broadband. According to the bandwidth needs, we can get a specific package plan that’s work-effective and cost -efficient for the users.

d. One-stop Internet solution: It is able to provide you with video-conferencing and video-on-demand applications or meet and communicate with peers/associates even as they are in remote areas. This way one can view his/her favourite movies over the Internet, too. E-learning is another area that was supposed to have given a boost to the usage of broadband at homes. Till now, only text and pictures are the major part of e-learning. But, with coming of broadband technology, the whole scene will change. Now, Audio and Video is going to invade the scene of E-learning. Similarly, it will lend a new dimension to online lottery, online gaming and streaming of audio and video.

Indian angle

The major reason of the slow acceptance of broadband technology is its high costs and reluctance of the home-users to bear these costs. Generally, there is a lack of broadband content on the Net.. Moreover, the rate of PC penetration in India is dismal Also, there is a sudden clash in dot-com boom and similar clash in Internet-users. The time to come, however, undoubtedly belongs to broadband when the Net too becomes multimedia content driven.