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India and the US Working on a National Broadband Plan

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Broadband is just not simply high-speed Internet access -- it is an investment in the communications infrastructure. An infrastructure that connects every citizen, company and government agency -- changes the communications landscape. This transformation can foster an open government, enable educational innovation, lower healthcare costs and provide for a public safety broadband network.

Understanding the implications of not having a broadband policy -- Congress directed the FCC to design a National Broadband Plan. On March 15 2010, Chairman Julius Genachowski and the FCC delivered the overdue 377 page National Broadband Plan to Congress.

India had been watching the progress closely and now would like to design their own national broadband plan. Genachowski and TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) Chairman JS Sarma recently spoke at the FICCI Conference. The two discussed a broadband road map for India.

We can share the ideas on priorities and cost effective methods with India.

-Genachowski

India has a population of 1.2 billion of which 81 million use the Internet but only 5.3 million have broadband access. Dial-up appears to be the main access to the Internet. According to BuddeComm an estimated 60% of Internet users access the World Wide Web from the more than 10, 000 cybercafes. Unfortunately, India ranks 124th in the world (out of the 152 countries listed) for broadband speeds -- downstream of 1.30 Mbp/s upstream of 0.68 Mbp/s.

We have initiated talks through the ICT joint working group last week in New Delhi. We have fixed a time-bound schedule to discuss things. The two sides will soon identify points of contacts for one-to-one interactions.

US Ambassador Philip L. Verveer

Chairman Sarma has his work cut out for him. Bringing broadband to 1.2 billion people will be not an easy task but I am certain he knows that. Sarma is taking on this massive project because he understands that broadband is not a luxury but an essential infrastructure which is critical to India's competitive advantage.

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