"There is a criticism that broadband penetration is low in the country. We are looking at a three-point solution affordable PCs, good connectivity and good content. Content is key to the proliferation of broadband which we lack," Maran said at the launch of the national portal of India - India.gov.in.
The problem is if people are going to use only Internet, a dial-up connection should be enough. One needs to be convinced of good quality content to use broadband.
So instead of saying broadband has not taken off, the focus should be on encouraging content creation, he said.
"If we are to boost the broadband penetration in the country we need content in English as well as in all other regional languages. After all only five per cent people speak English," he said.
Maran's remarks come in the wake of TRAI's demand for opening up of last mile access of BSNL and MTNL on the ground that broadband penetration is likely to miss the set target due to poor take-off.
The current broadband connection stands at about seven lakh. The official target was 30 lakh by December 2005.
The government had already facilitated efforts of the private players to bring down the PC prices. PCs with 1.6 Ghz speed are available at Rs 10,000. We are solving the issue of connectivity and after the PCs, our focus now is to bring down the prices of notebook computers, the minister said.
A broadband connection, which was as high as Rs 3,000-Rs 4000 last year for a 256 kbps connection, is much cheaper now. MTNL has broken the price barrier at Rs 199 for its broadband connection, while a BSNL connection at present is Rs 250 a month, Maran said."Our Internet prices globally are the lowest," he claimed. At the end of 2005, broadband connections have crossed 6.9 lakh including both private and PSU players. The official target is 30 lakh by the end of this year since it was announced in October last year.