Long distance impact

The expected
privatization of Domestic Long Distance (DLD) communications
is another step forward in the era of liberalization and privatization
of Indian telecom industry. Presently, the Department of Telecommunications
(DoT) is the only Domestic Long Distance Operator (DLDO) in
India and VSNL is the only international long distance operator
for all types of telecom services. The few existing private
basic and cellular operators are allowed to extend DLD services
to their subscribers within the states and the end-user does
not have the choice of selecting his LD operator/network. Private
operators (both fixed and wireless) have to interconnect with
the DoT network for providing long distance services to their
end-users.

The government
is planning to de-regularize long distance services from 1 January
2000. Therefore, it is prudent for the service providers as
well as equipment and network solution providers to closely
monitor the developments towards priv-atization of long distance

telephony and other related services.

The potential
DLDOs are preparing themselves to get the licence. TRAI has
already come out with a consultation paper on DLD services in
India. The international long distance services shall be reviewed
in 2004 for deregulation. The TRAI document includes a detailed
analysis of the LD traffic, revenue generation, and possible
terms and conditions along with the associated issues in LD
network and services.

Existing
Infrastructure

Most of the current infrastructure in the country is with the
DoT, which has 76,000 rkm of Optical Fibre Cables (OFC). Other
private agencies have approximately 3,000 rkm. It is forecasted
that the alternate OFC route would reach to 70,000 rkm and the
DoT will add 13,600 rkm by 2003. Basic and cellular operators
have limited infrastructure in their circles. There are some
digital microwaves networks with limited spare capacity connecting
major locations in a few states for fixed and cellular operators.

Among all telecom service providers, only the DoT has the Right
of Way (RoW) for all the states due to the statutory authority
granted by government. It remains to be seen whether the said
policy will also have some guidelines pertaining to RoW for
the DLDOs which may enable them to build up the LD network in
time.

The Railways
has already given RoW to two sectors in the country for laying
OFC network and floated an RFP for the rest of the sectors.
The potential DLDOs are bidding for it to get substantial portion
of the sectors. Other agencies like PGCIL, Defence, Ministry
of Surface Transport (MOST), and GAIL may auction their RoW
for laying OFC for LD network in the near future. The other
government agencies such as Railways, Power Grid Corporation
of India, Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), and Highway Authority
of India use their private network for telecommunications. The
spare capacity of these prominent agencies also could be used
for offering LD services.There are
some regulatory issues also involved in building up or using
the existing infrastructure. There are only two categories of
entities owing or proposing to build infrastructure-service
provider and others including utilities. But if utilities remain
as pure infrastructure provider then issues, related to service
quality, traffic and interconnections, etc., need to be resolved
seriously.

LD Tariff
& Revenue

Some of the traffic/revenue data on existing LD network is already
available and TRAI has also given some guidelines for doing
the calculations. A lot of work pertaining to long distance
revenue, traffic, services, etc., has already begun. This will
enable DLDOs for estimating the licence fee and business viability.
However, it is really very hard to design a traffic/revenue
model based on this information. This is because, firstly, the
present traffic (as per TRAI) may not be the right indication
of potential LD traffic/revenue. Secondly, forecast of Internet
and data leased-lines traffic/revenue is a difficult task. And
lastly, because no clear guidelines are given for the definition
of LD traffic, i.e., what are the boundaries of LD traffic and
implications with respect to FSP/DoT? How many players would
be there in the field is also not known.

The LD policy
of the government will have major impact on the network design,
service offerings, and business case. The policy will also decide
LD traffic boundaries for the DLDOs licence. For example, the
LD traffic definition could be interstate traffic across different
states/regions with intrastate traffic (to limited destinations).
Whether the DLDOs will be allowed to carry intrastate traffic
is still not clear. The intrastate traffic forms a significant
portion-it could be as high as 40-50 percent of total LD revenue.

However,
the break up between intrastate, intra-region, and interstate
will also depend on some other factors such as community of
interest, geography, etc.

Therefore,
there are multiple options-regional, zonal, and national basis-being
talked about the boundaries of DLDOs. Again how many DLDOs per
region/zone is not known. Similarly, data traffic-Long Distance
Leased Lines (E1, nx64 & 64 Kbps), Internet, VPN service
operators-may also be allowed to use DLDOs infrastructure. All
these parameters will have an overall impact on the service
offerings, revenue potential, and viability of private LD network
and business case.

The percentage
breakup or distribution of total LD traffic (estimated) between
DoT, FSP, GSM, Data dial-up and data leased-lines by year 2005
is given in the chart below. This chart only indicates the percentage
of traffic coming from these sources/applications on LD network,
including intra-circle LD traffic and is purely author”s analysis.
In this case, data traffic does not include the voice-over-packet
traffic, which may have major implication on total LD traffic
and revenue. These percentages are based on the existing rollout
and certain growth taken from various sources. The figures could
vary in reality.Based on
our traffic analysis up to 2005 keeping in mind above type of
traffic the typical revenue figures are calculated as given
below. The objective of presenting these revenue figures is
to show the kind of size for the LD market. Capturing this market
would be the challenge for the DLDOs.
Data-Centric LD Network Architecture Solution

The fast
growth in data is a world-wide phenomenon. Applications such
as the Internet, e-mail, e-commerce, VPNs, VoIP, multimedia
conference, intranet, extranet, multimedia, and video and voice
on Net imaging are driving data growth. This trend is changing
the traffic mix. In future, data traffic will far exceed the
voice traffic and, as this happens, voice traffic would be converted
to packets and carried over packet or cell networks (IP or ATM).
Thus, data-over-circuits (PSTN) to voice-over-Net (VoN) is likely
to be the global trend in future. Many service providers want
to create a multi-services packet network that provides:

  • Integration
    of voice, video, and data services all on a single converged
    packet network.
  • Voice
    services that are competitive in variety, quality, and reliability
    to those offered from a circuit network environment.
  • Rapid
    new service creation environment with lower costs, higher
    capacity, and greater scalability than separate service-specific
    networks.

But service
providers face different challenges in realizing these goals
depending on whether they seek to evolve packet networks, circuit
networks, or both. For packet network owners, the challenge
is to add Voice-over-Packet (VoP) technology to their packet
infrastructure that enables them to compete in the voice services
market with circuit network owners but cost-effectively. For
circuit network owners, the challenge is to evolve their equipment
infrastructure to gain the cost-savings and feature-flexibility
benefits of packet networks without losing their competitive
edge in voice services quality, reliability, etc. Circuit networks
owners especially need:

  • A graceful
    evolution from circuit to packet.
  • A consistent
    portfolio of solutions for local/tandem/transit/toll.
  • Transparent
    voice features on either circuit vs. packet network

Changes
in both switching and transmission technology are beginning
to suggest a migration away from the widespread use of voice
switches to use ATM-based Permanent Virtual Circuit (PVC) and
Switched Virtual Circuit (SVC) or IP-based data-oriented technology.
The data-centric network offers quality of service, class of
service, and feature enhancements over pure voice networkThe network
architecture shall have full-featured capability, providing
global, toll quality voice and data communications and advanced
Intelligent Network (IN) services, such as Advanced Toll Free,
Calling Card, and Operator Services. IN services are essential
to get more revenue/traffic for LD networks. In this case since
DLDO will not be the local access service provider but he may
get access of end-users through local service providers for
long distance calls. The end-user will have the choice to select
LD network for making long distance calls. In fact a significant
portion of traffic/ revenue would be coming from the direct
end-users. Service providers benefit from the reduced network
operating costs delivered by a single, unified voice and data
network and, thus, can maximize the return on their network
infrastructure investment.

A data-centric
voice network is a data network that is designed with the Quality
of Service (QoS) controls that are required to transport voice
calls. ATM and IP are today”s most popular technologies for
implementing data-centric networks. ATM was developed as a technology
to support data, voice, and video traffic on a single network.
QoS mechanisms are defined within ATM to guarantee the strict
delay and constant bit rate required for voice and other applications.
Data traffic, which is bursty and delay tolerant, can coexist
with voice and other traffic on the same ATM network without
any detrimental effects.

Classic
IP (IPv4), on the other hand, was developed and optimized to
support data applications. However, IP lacks the QoS controls
that are available in ATM networks. To meet the QoS requirements
for voice, IP networks must be engineered with excess bandwidth
and closely monitored to assure the service levels required
for voice. Developments are currently underway within the IP
standards bodies and product developers to address IP”s QoS
shortcomings. We can expect to see the results soon.n

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