India’s dominant provider of fixed line telephony services, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), will next year upgrade all of its lowest speed broadband connections free of charge, Communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran told attendees on the opening day of the India Telecom 2006. All users of BSNL’s current 256kbps downstream DSL service will see their speeds boosted to 2Mbps in 2007 as part of the state’s plans to ramp up broadband use and reach its target of signing up nine million high speed internet users by the end of 2007. Maran hopes the country’s private ISPs will follow BSNL’s lead and increase the speeds of their services to remain competitive. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, there were a little over 1.5 million broadband users in India at the end of June 2006, a penetration rate of just 0.2%. Earlier this month the Internet Service Providers’ Association of India (ISPAI) asked the government to make broadband services exempt from service tax for five years in a bid to boost take-up and meet later targets. The state has yet to respond.