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Driving into NextGen

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Trai's efforts to bring out a consultation paper for issuing the roadmap for

telcos to migrate from the existing to the NGN platform is a welcome step. More

than two years ago, the regulator had floated a consultation paper with the

purpose of raising awareness on NGN among telcos.

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Even as the regulator is trying all possible means to get inputs from all the

players in the migration game, India is moving at a relatively slower pace as

many leading operators migrate to the NGN platform world over.

Consequent to Trai recommendations in March 2006, an Expert Committee on Next

Generation Networks (NGN-eCO) was constituted under the aegis of Trai. The

committee deliberated upon the licensing, interconnection and QoS issues related

to NGN and submitted its final report to Trai in August 2007. The expert

committee emphasized the need to deliberate these specific issues separately.

Following which this consultation process has been initiated.

The increasing acceptability of a common IP back bone for all services,

declining average revenue per user, intense competition, new demands for new and

better value added services and applications has prompted many leading operators

to migrate to the NGN platform the world over. NGN is essentially a managed

IP-based - packet-switched network that supports a variety of high-speed data

intensive services including IPTV, HDTV, videoconferencing, VoIP, instant

messaging, email, and other packet-switched communication services.

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Trai has notified that operators must be provided with a stable regulatory

and policy framework so that they can take risks associated with NGN

deployments, particularly the high upfront investments required. The regulator

has expressed its concern saying that unless license conditions and regulations

are properly redefined with a light touch regulatory approach, it would be

difficult to encourage smooth migration to NGN. It has asked telcos to specify

if there should be a change in the regulatory and policy framework in the

emergence of NGN. Since NGN platform involves better content and increased value

added services, Trai also wants to know the industry's views on who should

regulate content, and also how the process should be executed.

Currently, it is not mandatory for operators to migrate to NGN. Besides, the

communication ministry has also not specified any time frame for replacing their

existing networks with the NGN platform. Trai has sought the industry's opinion

if this system should continue, or, if a time-frame for migration to NGN should

be specified. It has also sought telcos' views on whether any industry specific

standardization would be necessary to ensure inter interoperability in NGN

environment in view of many optional fields in existing standards.

The consultation paper also touches upon licensing matters like licensing

framework, competition issues, the provision of third party service and

applications, service level agreements, mandatory interconnect exchange,

placement of active elements in the network, a compatible interface by NGN

networks for interconnections with TDM networks, interface approval in NGN, e-

number dialing and re-authentication of identification of the called party.

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The Indian NGN market is advancing more steadily and the country is preparing

to provide an enhanced customer experience. According to telecom consulting firm

iLocus' December 2008 report NGN deployment in India has been rapidly growing.

India has so far deployed NGNs that have created a capacity of over 14.9 mn

Class 4 lines and 4.1 mn Class 5 lines. The report also predicts India will

become one of the largest NGN markets in the world in the next few years. By

2012, the NGN capacity deployed in the country is expected to reach 18.9 mn

Class 4 lines and 17.6 mn Class 5 lines.

India is gearing up for newer technologies that can best be supported by NGN,

hence there is no reason to waste time. Considering the bright future of NGN in

India, it is in the industry's best interest to have a long term approach and

participate actively so that the government does not sit on it for too long,

and, meanwhile, India fails to reap the fruits that most operators around the

world are already relishing. But that comes with a word of caution the industry

has to adopt a futuristic approach and avoid last moment glitches like in the

case of 3G spectrum auction, that has left the players clueless.

Heena Jhingan



heenaj@cybermedia.co.in

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