Technology

Digitisation is irrevocable: JS Sarma

CHENNAI: During his keynote address at the third edition of the Federation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry‘s (Ficci) two day Media and Entertainment Business Conclave (MEBC 2011) Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman JS Sarma said, that the world is changing and we are moving to a digitise world. We are looking at everything becoming digitised.


"By digitizing TV, etc, we are taking important baby steps that would lead to faster growth in our economy over the next few years. When we talk of digitisation, we must understand that this is something irrevocable and we must adjust to what is going to come. In the film world for instance, digitisation is virtually taking place. I think Ra.One was released in 1000 screens at the same time, as opposed to the earlier method of taking films on a cycle," Sarma said.


"Digitisation is significant for broadcasters, the cable operators including MSOs‘ and the government. It enables broadcasters to come up with better means of distribution and gives them better business opportunities and enables them to think in terms of HD and for cable operators it offers the ability to reach out to the people and offer them content of their choice. For the government it means better revenue collection. Better revenue collection also means that you also do not tend to overcharge the industry," explained Sarma.
 
Sarma said that he had reasons to believe that the Unified License would come into being and would enable anybody to offer directly all telecom services except wireless.


He said that he knew that cable operator industry is concerned about the non-uniformity of the taxation due to the propensity of the local state governments to tax at will. Digitisation would help improve things, he added.


Speaking about the challenges of digitisation, Sarma that it could probably be done faster than the sunset date because it is not difficult and also it is aided by the National Broadcast Plan (NBP). Trai wanted both digitisation and a broadband optic fiber network in the country which is being realised on ground.


Once there is an optic fiber network, there is immense capacity and an information highway and Sarma encouraged broadcasters to get into this business. Though the NBP was not looking at present at cities, the NBP recommended by Trai called for fiber to home in all cities having a population of more than a million people, fiber to hubs in all cities with lesser than 1 million population up to 10,000 people and node to the smaller towns and villages.


As far as cities are concerned, Sarma informed that in a few months time, any entity, be it a telecom service provider or MSO could get into an agreement with a city government through a collaborative initiative or a public private partnership. Optic fiber on every road would offer a tremendous opportunity for offering services other than those being given by broadcasters.
 
Sarma said further that people are no longer depending upon one box - the television, but to three screens or convergence. Different types of applications are required, not only in terms of device, but in terms of requirements like financial, knowledge. He said that cable operators should stop thinking that they would be dealing with only TV channels, which would be only one of the mediums for delivery of data.


Allaying the fears of a number of people who felt that digitisation would result in job losses, Sarma said that it would offer plenty of opportunities.


Concluding his keynote, Sarma said that certain issues needed to be looked into. These included getting the STB‘s for complete digitisation.


Samra also assured that by February 2012, there would be some finality about the broadcasters concern about having a ‘must carry clause‘.


Sarma said that we need to quickly and efficiently transform ourselves and if India has to play its role on the world stage and if we have to leave behind a better society for our children, then the status quo need to be changed.

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