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TRAI sees merit in using satcom for broadband delivery

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NEW DELHI: India needs to create digital platforms, pushed by government policies and private sector entrepreneurship, which are specific to India and address its specific needs, telecom and broadcast regulator TRAI advisor SK Singhal said on Wednesday, adding that affordable broadband and allied services like television form the backbone of NTP 2018.

“We need to create policies (including those pertaining to the digital world) that address our specific needs,” Singhal said at the CII Big Picture Summit 2017, adding that optimal usage of capacity created by cable networks is a must to deliver broadband services to every corner of India as envisioned by PM Modi.

Singhal, along with Broadcast Engineering Consultant India Ltd (BECIL) CMD George Kuruvilla were speaking on the theme of `Connected India is Digital India’ and how for digital India to be truly implemented broadband access had to be made affordable, including all mediums of delivery like satellite communications (satcom) and cable.

Pointing out that a stronger ‘collaboration’ is needed between operators of cable networks and those who use the pipe to deliver services, Singhal said that TRAI has already recommended to the government to use cable networks’ broadband delivery potential to fulfil the goals of the New Telecom Policy 2018.

However, he officially admitted that to fully realise the digital potential of cable networks, some “policy hiccups” also need to be ironed out along with proper guidance in entrepreneurial skills of people who operate such networks.

Economic Times, in September, had quoted telecoms minister Manoj Sinha as saying that the NTP 2018, expected by March 2018, will focus on providing affordable internet access to 1.3 billion Indians and facilitate domestic manufacturing to curb dependence on imports. He had added that NTP will address sector issues and make them future-proof with the onset of disruptive technologies such as fifth-generation (5G) and AI.

Dwelling further on building broadband capacity and fully “unleash the potential” of cable networks, Singhal said set top boxes too need to be unbundled or made interoperable. TRAI has an interaction going on with all stakeholders on the issue and some field tests have also been conducted on interoperable boxes.

Asked how the draft space policy, presently being reviewed by various stakeholders, could facilitate increased use of satellite communications to give a fillip to delivery of broadband services, Singhal skirted a direct answer as space related policies were handled by ministries of telecoms and space (department of space falls within the ambit of prime minister’s office).

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