Broadband India Forum: Empowering Consumers with Efficient and Economic Broadband

Broadband India Forum
BIF leadership with Shri Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre- Hon'ble Minister of State for Communications, HRD & Electronics & Information Technology

When it comes to providing consumers with the optimum level of services, one thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the wide approach of that particular service and ease in delivery. The access to it is one of the most important factors along with its user-friendliness. Creating a way towards an efficient system of facilitating a service is a complex process and to streamline such process various strategies should be kept in place in order to attain higher effective customer satisfaction. Digital platforms all over the globe are proving to be pivotal in delivering next-gen advanced services.
In our country also, Digital India has opened up new horizons for enabling various services across different domains. It is the foundation for next-generation entrepreneurs, who are smart and digitally literate. They are expected to build on the existing bedrock to create and produce innovative products, solutions, apps (applications) and services. All of this would be able to help in overcoming the challenges and issues prevailing in the sector. It will also assist the country in becoming a $1 Trillion Digital Economy by 2022, as per the results laid down by the NDCP. There are a lot of companies, old and new, that are contributing to creating a nation built on the most advanced tech-enabled lifestyle on the get-go.
Since its inception four years ago, Broadband India Forum (BIF) has worked for the development and enhancement of the entire broadband ecosystem of the country. It functions as a policy forum and think-tank making necessary efforts in reaching out to various institutions and entities involved in different aspects of broadband proliferation. BIF has established itself as a thought leader and a credible source with an effective voice to help propel the nation’s vision of creating a powerful and secure ‘Digital India’. To achieve this, the company aids in promoting the rapid development of policies to facilitate affordable and high-speed ubiquitous broadband throughout the country.
Inside BIF

  • BIF was established in October 2015, and is a dedicated forum to the cause of broadband with participation from all the stakeholders. This list includes – Technology Providers, Telecommunication Operators, Internet Service Providers, Value-Added Service Providers, Satellite Operators, and other Service Providers enabling broadband proliferation in the country. The organisation is providing special emphasis and focus on Startups , Academia and other professional entities in the Digital Technologies space. The Forum’s senior leadership team includes renowned and respected professionals from varied backgrounds from the Industry, Regulatory bodies and the Government.

BIF is greatly privileged to have a distinguished Panel of experts as Honorary Principal Advisors. It has also engaged with leading consumer awareness & consumer protection bodies, academic institutions & standardization bodies to broaden and enhance the horizon of activities in the broadband space.
BIF functions through its Hi-Level Committees on various subjects like 5G, SatCom, Content & Applications, Networks, Spectrum & Licensing, Manufacturing – Mobile Devices & Equipment, New Technologies & Innovations, Rural Digital Initiatives, Technology, Media & Telecom (TMT), etc. BIF has as many as 14 Hi-level Committees and Working Groups
One of the key thrust areas for BIF is to nurture and help Startups in Digital Communication Technologies. To fulfill this end, BIF is working through its Academia & Standards Committee with special emphasis on Startups, whose focus will be entirely on nurturing innovation led Startups in the Digital Technology space to meet the goals of the Government in the Digital Communications domain.
The Forum has signed a co-operation agreement with Global Standardization bodies such as ETSI and 3GPP, the latter having nominated the firm as an MRP (Market Representation Partner). It is also actively pursuing areas of cooperation with other organizations and forums of repute viz. IET-IoT forum, TSDSI, 5GIA, and several other bodies to actively promote its broadband proliferation agenda in technology, service, and vendor-agnostic manner. BIF has entered into an MOU with CUTS International – a Global Consumer Broadband Labelling organization that is involved with consumer protection and consumer affairs. The two organisations have jointly submitted a paper to the Regulator & the government on Wireless Broadband Data speeds, besides participating and representing their position on a number of issues including 5G, in important industry seminars and relevant forums as well.
Broadband India Forum undertook the preparation and release of a joint study report in the area of assessment of impact on the creation of consumer surplus related to Rich Internet Applications jointly with WIK Consult Gmbh and on the economic impact of Next-Generation Internet-based applications on the Indian economy with ICRIER. Both the study reports have made a far reaching impact among all the stakeholders including policymakers, the Regulator, academia, industry, etc.
BIF has also established a congenial working relationship with the prestigious Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), engaging on the prospects of developing efficient digital infrastructure in India. ADBI has rich international expertise and insights in – prudent investments, appropriate business plans suited to markets, and international workshops, focused towards developing digital infrastructure, and have offered the same to BIF to help drive the growth of the digital economy in the country. BIF is working with ADBI on several global comparative and in-depth studies, building general public awareness, assessments and evaluations of the present scenario in India and the requirements thereof, to facilitate the progress of developing a world class digital infrastructure.
Broadband India Forum is well poised to play an even greater role in future for accelerating Economic Transformation through the induction of Next generation Digital Technologies viz. 5G, AI, IoT, Cloud Computing, etc. and consequent proliferation of broadband  throughout India,” conveys the BIF team.  “Our journey co-incidentally started with the launch of the Digital India campaign and though we have come a long way, we believe there is still a longer way ahead of us,” the team adds.  
Inherent Expertise
T.V. Ramachandran – Founder & President of BIF, aka “TV” has a Master’s degree in Physics (specialization in Wireless and Electronics). With more than 50 years of work experience, his initial 25 years of the professional journey were in Dunlop India where he shuffled between top management positions. Since the beginning of mobile telecommunications in 1994, Mr. T.V. Ramachandran or TVR (as he is popularly known) was the first CEO of Sterling Cellular – Delhi, the predecessor of Vodafone India, which he helped establish as the largest Indian cellular network of that time.
He was the first Chairman of the India Interest Group of GSM-MoU Association. He also founded and led as the first Director General of Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) for twelve years, establishing it as a credible voice of the industry. Subsequently, TVR  served as Resident Director – Regulatory Affairs & Govt. Relations, Vodafone India, for the next five years. For his contributions to Mobile Telephony in India, he was conferred the ‘Voice & Data Lifetime Contribution Award’, in March 2015. TVR was recently nominated by the Government as a member of the prestigious ‘Hi-level 5G Forum’ formed to develop the Vision & Road-map for 5G in India.
As one of the three distinguished Indians to be a lifetime member of the Global Advisory Council of Institution of Engineers & Technologies ( IET) , he has been one of the chief patrons and part of the Core Organising Team of IET- IoT Congress since its very inceptionand has served the IET India Development Panel for three years.
Some of the exclusive services offered by BIF to its members are listed below:

  1. Coordinate, Promote and Formulate expert opinions on topical subjects related to Broadband.
  2. Act as a credible and reliable platform for Industry, Government, Regulatory and Standards agencies.
  3. Spearhead independent and non-partisan work in several areas related to policy, regulation, and standards.
  4. Conduct conferences, seminars and knowledge events.
  5. Write and develop research papers and white papers in collaboration with reputed research institutes such as ICRIER, IIM Bangalore and Counterpoint Research.
  6. Conduct awareness campaigns within the highest echelons of the Government’s policymakers on several issues.
  7. Release media articles on issues currently pertinent to the telecommunication sector in India as Make in India, EMF radiation, Net Neutrality, OTT Regulations SatCom Liberalization & Reforms, V band, GST based incentivisation for Local Manufacturing, etc., and conducting R&D Projects in partnerships with leading consumer organisations as part of an overall Consumer Awareness

Industry Dynamics
The Telecommunication Sector has done fairly well in providing mobile access connectivity to over 93% Indians.. However, the Broadband Penetration is currently at barely 50% and is threatening to stagnate. This is based on the current definition of Broadband which is 512kbps. If one were to increase the same to even 2Mbps, the penetration figures would sharply decrease. Besides, there is a huge challenge to get the whole country ‘broadband covered’ and enjoy the fruits of high-speed internet. Also, the huge benefits that accrue from utilizing the plethora of innovative applications & services, can be enabled with true broadband. Between all of this, BIF’s mission has been to support and enhance policy, regulatory & standards initiatives for the escalation of high-quality broadband in the country in a technology-neutral and all-inclusive manner. But as every mission comes with a challenge, BIF has its own set of issues to tackle, namely:

  1. Challenge of Regulatory Levies on Telecom Service Providers.
  2. High Spectrum Pricing.
  3. Right of Way Challenges.
  4. Challenges of introducing E & V band for Wireless Backhaul.
  5. Mainstreaming use of Satellite for delivering Broadband & 5G.
  6. The proliferation of Public WiFi Hotspots.
  7. Broadband definition of 512 kbps.

The current projects handled by BIF are:

  1. Consumer Awareness Program for Digital Literacy
  2. ICT for Persons with Disabilities
  3. Industry-Academia Cooperation for Innovation
  4. Public WiFi Liberalization
  5. 5G Awareness Program
  6. Impact of Liberalized Sat-Com Policy & Regulation
  7. Boost Indigenous R&D, Product Development, IPR Creation & Manufacturing
  8. Impact of Emerging Technologies on Job creation

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