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ICCC-2005: Forget What You Know

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VoicenData Bureau
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The first International Conference on Computing and Communications (ICCC) was

held at Kanpur from 4—6 February 2005. It focussed on how the emerging

technologies in IT and telecommunications can be applied for betterment of the

society. Its tagline was 'Forget what you know.' And it showcased enough

information (if not knowledge) to show how technology could leapfrog India into

a developed society.

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Sessions featuring communications were invariaby better attended than those

on IT. Perhaps an indication of the next big technological revolution India is

headed for.

FC Kohli (ex deputy chairman TCS) and Irwin Mark Jacobs, (chairman and CEO,

Qualcomm) were felicitated with lifetime achievement awards.

Pradeep Baijal, chairman, TRAI highlighted the role of private sector in

India's telecom development by citing that while the teledensity till 1998 was

two percent, last year the tele-density increased by two percent. Complementing

the role of TRAI, N Vittal said that TRAI was a case in point in how policy can

be used to create value for the society. AK Sinha, CMD, BSNL concurred with

Baijal that private players had contributed to the growth in telecom, and added

that despite the BSNL no longer enjoying any special 'dispensation' with the

government, it had been able to gather 20 percent of the mobile market within

two years of entering the market and it aimed to corner 50 percent of the growth

in the next two years.

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The broad theme held by most speakers was that though telecom services in

urban areas was world class, with a tele-density of 1.7 the rural areas were

lagging behind. And lack of any other form of infrastructure (e.g. rails or

road) in these areas added to the problem.

DPS

Seth, member, TRAI said that there was no incentive for private playes to go

rural, and the burden of rural connectivity so far had been on BSNL. The USO was

formed to pump in investment here but it could disburse only Rs 500 crore of the

Rs 5,000 crore at its disposal. He called for a re-look at the goal of providing

universal access and universal service. So far, he said, the goal was only to

provice access to a traditional fixed phone lines. But the rural market is

unable to attract investment for this despite its huge size. What is needed, he

said, is a business case approach to rural telephony. And a business case was

only possible if relevant value-added services (such as tele-medecine and

agricultural consulting) were offered in the rural areas. But these services are

bandwidth hungry.

Therefore the universal access would have to be redefined to providing access

to broadband. And the content on this connectivity would have to be in local

languages.

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FC Kohli noted that India and China in the 90s had almost identical rates of

PC penetration and tele-density. He said China is much ahead of India in these

fields because China could create local language content.

SC Gupta, member electrical, Railway Board said that since railway station

are already connected by optical fiber, they could house WiMax base station

connected to the fiber in the backhaul. Of course, this network would not

provide 100 percent coverage in India, said Gupta. But all available

technologies needed to be used to promote telecom in the country. In this

regard, he praised TRAI's attempts at setting up niche operators.

A presentation by Chaudhary and Holur of Samsung India Software Operations

highlighted how ultra wide band technology (UWB) could power the wireless

personal area networks (WPAN) of the future. UWB was till now used only in

millitary applications like radar, and even after it being freeing up, such

wireless networks cannot extend beyond 10 meters.

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The conference also dwelt on the security needs of the armed forces

especially in the arena of communications technology.

While the conference featured papers mainly by industry bigshots and

academics, there was also a presentation of a model for toll tax collection,

developed by the students at IIIT Bangalore. A pilot based on this model, for

SMS-based toll tax collection, is already on in Karnataka.

By the time the conference ended, topics ranging from the most technical to

the most socio-economically relevent had been highlighted. However, the

valedictory speech highlighted the socially relevant discussions at the

conference. Among other things, the conference closed with a recommendation that

at least all the universities in Indian should be connected to the broadband

infrastructure. There was immense knowledge in the many centers of excellece and

the communications infrestructure was a must for its dissemination to all

students. In this aspect, the role of Edusat was also highlighted as an enabler

in this pursuit. The conference also noted that though connectivity is

necessary, it can achieve little due to the lack of basic infrastructure

especially in the villages. The conference ended with the academics and the

industry professionals deciding that they "must tell the government how to

penetrate the rural areas," and at the same time lamented that those who

needed technology the most were not able to attend this conference.

Some of the prominent speakers at the three-day event were FC Kohli, ex

deputy chairman, TCS; N Vittal, former secretary DoT; Pradeep Baijal, chairman

TRAI; AK Sinha, CMD BSNL; Dr DPS Seth, member TRAI; and Sam Pitroda, chairman

World WorldTel. The event was jointly organised by IIT Kanpur and IETE Kanpur

and will now be held every two years, the next one being proposed for 2007.

Alok Singh

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