Palike's OFC confusion may ruin City's broadband status

B'lore leads Mumbai and Delhi in number of users from offices

Palike's OFC confusion may ruin City's broadband status

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) must quickly clear the confusion over legality of optical fibre cables (OFCs) as it can help the City retain its top position in the number of people who use broadband internet at workplace.

While Bangalore has 1.7 million broadband users accessing internet from work, Mumbai comes in next at 1.2 million and Delhi third at 8 lakh. It is also interesting that professionals in the City spend more time on the internet per day at 47 minutes, while in Mumbai and Delhi, the time spent is around 35 minutes.

This simply means more people in Bangalore use the internet via broadband from their workplaces compared with office-goers in Mumbai and Delhi, according to Mukund Mohan, CEO-in-Residence at Microsoft India and technology entrepreneur.

Mohan explains why the City is ahead in broadband users. “Bangalore continues to lead the country in technology companies, particularly information technology, whereas Mumbai is strong in financial institutions and Delhi in the BPO space. Both cities have less technology set-ups compared with Bangalore, which is why more professionals access broadband internet here,” he told Deccan Herald.

It is also important to note that BSNL, which has more than 60 per cent of the market share in internet connections countrywide, has earned the highest revenue this year from its Bangalore operations in broadband usage. A BSNL official told this newspaper: “In the last previous three years, BSNL Bangalore has bagged awards for broadband growth. Bangalore has been ahead of all cities in the number of users.”

The City is also home to the largest number of start-ups, which means a high number of internet users. According to technology industry estimates, 40 per cent of all technology start-ups in the country come out of Bangalore, again higher than Mumbai and Delhi.

A higher number of broadband users means high revenue for internet service providers as well as the BBMP. But the Palike does not yet have a clear policy on procedures to be followed in laying the cables and is not yet levying rent from companies for having laid the cables.

When the technology industry, BSNL broadband and start-ups are all looking up in Bangalore, why doesn’t BBMP work out how it can leverage these advantages to earn high revenue?

All that BBMP officials say is that the Palike will study to what extent cables have been laid, where and how much rent to charge. A panel has been set up to study the OFC status and is expected to submit a report. Meanwhile, private companies are making a killing by not paying anything.

People in the technology industry say clarity will only come when the State government ensures clarity in land use, procedures to be followed in using public land, purpose of use of the land and cost of use of the land.

The US, for instance, has a clear policy of land use and companies are always in the know of where to locate cables in the public space. Because of BBMP’s lack of clarity on OFCs, cables run even in sewage pipes in Bangalore, which otherwise is touted as IT capital of the country.

Declaring all of Bangalore’s OFCs illegal would scare away internet service providers from laying more cables and offering more connections.

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