Cable TV

Cable TV, telecom networks converging for NGN

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NEW DELHI: The latest buzz word in the telecom and cable industry is next-generation networks (NGNs) for communication. And the techies and regulators are chanting this mantra alike.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Pradip Baijal justified the government's decision to let his organisation regulate cable and broadcasting sectors as well, saying this presages the cable TV and telecom networks converging to form the futuristic, next-generation networks."The 55 million cable TV reach forms a powerful medium," he pointed out, though his take on cable penetration sounded a bit exaggerated.

Addressing a pre-conference panel discussion today on "New Generation Networks" on the eve of the three-day 12th Convergence India exhibition and conference, Baijal said that technology changes were so fast that regulators worldwide were finding it difficult to keep pace with the changes.

However, India could learn from the experience of the rest of the world in channeling the potential of convergent networks.

TRAI expects to issue the Internet and broadband recommendations over the next fortnight, Baijal said, adding the growth in these segments was the next step after the government removed artificial barriers between WLL and GSM mobile networks to form a single unified license.

Telecom was moving towards a unified access using different alternative technologies, Baijal pointed out. He referred to the problems being faced by the US regulator in separating voice over copper lines from the voice over the Internet. "Artificial restrictions between WLL and GSM mobile telephony should go," he pointed out, referring to the transformation in the telecom scene brought about by a Trai decision to remove such restrictions last year.

He expected more such divisions between different technologies to be lifted in the coming months.

BROADBAND ON MOBILE HANDSETS

"Broadband-on-the-desktop in the US is getting transformed into broadband-on-mobile-handsets," said Qualcomm executive vice president and group president Dr Paul E Jacobs. In the evolving next-generation networks (NGNs), over 20 per cent of the revenue is already being generated from data services and applications.

He expected NGNs to move toward mobile technology. "Already many people are communicating using the Internet over mobile phones," he pointed out.

Pointing out that the evolving technologies are changing the industry structure, Dr Jacobs said with the growth of 3G mobile systems, the opportunities to market content are also growing. "Business opportunities are emerging in the applications segment for India in the same manner software had spawned new enterprises," he added.

Commenting on the opportunities for India, Dr Jacobs said, "There will be more emphasis on software development. Is there a hardware opportunity as well? That possibility exists too."

Dr Jacobs will be delivering a keynote address on NGNs at the 12th Convergence India show starting tomorrow at Pragati Maidan here.

Korea Telecom senior VP and head, global business center Dr Hansuk Kim, a débutante in the convergence show, said new generation networks were defined as broadband convergent networks in Korea. Highlighting KT's performance, Dr Kim added they have launched a 3G service based on W-CDMA and had been providing 2.5G services for over four years.

Korea Telecom is now working toward offering better functionality, at more competitive prices. "We need to think ahead and find better ways to deploy broadband - over wireless or wireline. It is time to integrate telecom and the Internet traffic on a simplified network infrastructure," he said.

Giving his impressions on NGN, BSNL director (commercial and marketing) N K Mangla, said it should be a network that provides all types of services and empowers providers to offer any service. He pointed out that though there had been a lot of rhetoric about NGNs over the last three to four years, few networks had actually been rolled out.

Highlighting BSNL's strategy, he said, "We are trying to provide broadband services full steam and are adopting new approaches. We will have about 500,000 customers in the next 12 months or so. We are starting to procure ADSL equipment and have tied up with KT in a big way. We also plan to have franchisees and will have a revenue-sharing model as well."

Sun Microsystems Asia Pacific Bill Cowper telecommunications industry director said, "We are looking at Java." He said providers should look at making money out of content and highlighted the classic case of NTT DoCoMo's i-mode. "It was a marketing idea that went out to 35 million users in two years," he added.

UT Starcom additional vice-president, global strategic technology, business development Brian Caskey said the key message going out was triple-play services -- delivering voice, video and data across the existing copper loops.

Citing Japan's example, he added that high speed, along with voice and other services drew customers to the broadband service. In India, wireless has been growing faster than wireline. Broadband services can help service providers raise their ARPU levels, while some other revenue streams can be television-over-IP, video-on-demand, broadcast TV, etc.

Lucent Technologies Hindustan Pvt. Ltd. president and CEO Vincent J Mazzola said there were many attributes of i-mode that led to its success in Japan. "I see that happening in India as well." NGN will be the platform that will deliver applications.

ZTE Corp general manager-international division Fang Rong while highlighting the firm's achievements, said its equipment have been installed in over 60 countries. This year, it has invested 15 per cent of its revenue into R&D. It also has 12 million CDMA lines deployed worldwide. ZTE India is actively participating in the network construction and will further increase activities in the area.

Earlier, while welcoming the panelists, Exhibitions India Pvt. Ltd. managing director Prem Behl - the main organiser, said that in the present-day India, the central government and its 28 states were racing one another in bringing the benefits of convergence to their furthest corners.

"Ideas like e-governance and government services online, empowering the last man to file his complaint to the chief minister directly over the line, or calling the district administration to attend to his problem of bringing water to a parched field are no longer a scientific fiction. Cable TV is no longer viewed as a source of soap dramas. It is seriously a candidate to bring distance education to remote areas," Behl added.

COUNTRY PAVILIONS AT THE EXHIBITION

CHINA: With a view to encourage interaction among Chinese manufacturers and Indian distributors of telecom and broadcasting equipment, 12th Convergence India 2004 presents the high profile "Chinese Pavilion,"consisting of over 20 companies displaying their products and services. ZTE and Huawei Technologies are some of the major sponsors from China.

FRANCE: Nine firms from France are here to participate in the French Pavilion at 12th Convergence India 2004. The visitors will view French technologies and products in communications, space and convergent technologies on display at the exhibition.

ISRAEL: The participating Israeli companies are convinced that the 12th Convergence India 2004 will present a good platform to enter the burgeoning Indian market. Their participation over the last 5 years at the event has been fruitful. This year, the Israel Export Institute has expanded the delegation from Israel with a total representation of 12 companies.

KOREA: The Korean Pavilion is a new attraction at the 12th Convergence India 2004 event. Korea Telecom is a major sponsor. This year 18 companies from Korea will showcase their products at the exhibition.

USA: The USA Pavilion has had overwhelming success at all Convergence India events. This year is no exception. 34 companies from the USA will be here at full strength to showcase next generation products and services.

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