Another telecom revolution beckons Himachal, but are we ready?


The next big thing in telecommunication is about to happen in Himachal Pradesh, provided there are takers for it. It was in the early 90s that the state took a giant leap in the sector taking advantage of a local Union minister who made it his slogan to take telephone to every household in Himachal. The ubiquitous PCO soon became a symbol of self-employment, followed by the coming of mobile phones, which brought about another revolution but at the cost of wiping out thousands of those yellow-painted shacks.

But as it is said, change is inevitable, and therefore the state is on the threshold of yet another big move ahead in the field of communication, taking advantage of the good telecom infrastructure in the state. Himachal has the third highest tele-density in the country at 46 per cent, which offers an ideal base to set up modern-day communication infrastructure. While mobile service is being provided in almost all parts of the state by four major players, only Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has ventured into providing broadband services.

It has now for long been said that the state is ideal for setting up information technology related ventures, but nothing much has happened on the front. While there have been daring examples of ventures like Instablogs being set up in the state, there are no other major IT related companies operating from the state. Probably, unlike almost all other states, Himachal government never thought about it seriously. It may be now too late to catch up on that front, but the state can certainly take the lead in other emerging communication technologies.

BSNL is preparing itself for a massive expansion of broadband services in the state and also for the launch of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), which is an alternative of cable television, and Direct To Home (DTH) service has already been introduced with even remote areas of Kinnaur being covered under a special scheme. The state is also headed towards getting the latest 3G service- broadband service on mobile- expected to be launched by December in 15 towns.

Himachal would again be among the early initiators of these services, but it remains to be seen whether the state can offer enough customer base to make these ventures commercially feasible.

BSNL has already taken initiative to add additional equipment at its Sundernagar base to enhance broadband and telephone bandwidth to meet next 10 years’ demand in the state.
But the major hurdle still remains to be computer penetration, As of now there are only 17,000 broadband commotions in the state, which hints at a very poor computer penetration. And unless the government does something on this front, the dream to see Himachal as a knowledge state seems a distant dream.

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  1. Its well said , about commercial feasibility of IPTV /Braodband services in the Land of Snowy mountains .
    Following factors require due consideration before we expect turnarround ……..

    a) Out of a total of 17000 BB connections 70-75% falls either in Govt Schools / Institutes. There is a very low penetration in House Hold Computers / Cyber Cafe .

    b) Apart from District HQ the speed of Internet Connections is far below the desired level. Though 92% of Himachal lives in Rural Area with scaracity of Quality COPPER NETWORK.

    c) In terms of Revennue realization Kangra / Hamirpur /Una and Bilaspur are WHITE HORSES , where ARPU is lower to the extent of less than INR 165 /- which stands out … 25-35% LESSER than national average of about INR235/-

    d) Above said areas house more than 40% of total population of the state

    e) Call drop is a common phenomenon while in movement between places . BSNL require to add substantial number of Base stations in these administrative Districts before expecting a turn arround.

    F) Generally BSNL exchanges remains closed during Holidays / Week ends . Therefore BB/ IPTV thRough Fixed lines is a distant dream .

    g) Lack of qualified staff to run exchanges by TTA/JTO is one of the major hurdle.

    Lets hope in spite of above concerns

    Jai Hind

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