India’s broadband growth slows to 6.5% in December quarter

Even as the government prepares an ambitious broadband program, Internet penetration in India is slowing down, according to TRAI numbers.

Rate of growth of Internet connections (including slow connections) fell to just 4.4% during the December quarter, or 23% compared to the last three months of 2009.

According to the latest data, India – which has 200 million households, had just 18.69 million Internet connections at the end of 2010. Out of these, only around 11 million were on fast connections or broadband – giving a broadband penetration rate of less than 1%.

In comparison, South Korea has a broadband penetration level of 95%, Sweden has 76% and Japan has a rate of 75% penetration.

India was supposed to achieve a 2% penetration rate – 20 million broadband connections – by 2010, but missed it by a mile.

The growth rate of both Internet connections and broadband connections have declined over the last several quarters. It went from around 12% quarter-on-quarter in the March quarter to 6.5% in December quarter of 2010.

The only silver lining to the cloud was that the proportion of faster connections – higher than 256 Kbps – is on the rise with every quarter.

It increased from 57.6% in September 2010 to 58.8% by end of December 2010.

Broadband penetration is likely to undergo a sea-change in the coming months as companies start rolling out wireless broadband networks based on Wimax and LTE technologies.

BSNL has already rolled out the Wimax network in many states like Kerala, but is yet to start roll out in most places such as Northern and Eastern India.

As of now, 86.29% (about 9 million plus) of the broadband subscribers are using copper wires. However, copper connections in India have been steadily declining – going from around 40 million a few years ago to 35 million at present.