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Last mile link: TRAI favours freedom for ISPs

By K. T. Jagannathan

CHENNAI, MARCH 19. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has favoured technology freedom for Internet service providers (ISPs) to establish their last mile access to customers.

The regulator has recommended to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that the ISPs be provided the leeway to pick any media for establishing their own last mile linkage to customers.

The licence agreement allows ISPs to use optic fibre and radio to establish last mile linkage with their customers. However, the agreement is silent on the usage of copper cable.

More often, ISPs use the DSL technology to provide high-speed Internet links. Invariably, they have to depend on access to copper loop from the existing operators and other basic service providers to establish their final link with customers. ISPs have complained to the TRAI about their problems in getting co-operation from basic service operators. Under the existing arrangement, if ISPs find it difficult to get copper loop from existing basic service providers, they have to queue up to the DoT for permission to put their own last mile on cable. This could prove a time-consuming process.

In view of this, the TRAI has suggested that the DoT should amend the licence agreement suitably to let ISPs manage their last mile problem through usage of any technology. The TRAI is convinced that this will encourage faster provision of high-speed Internet services by stand-alone ISPs.

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