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Time For Review

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Is it time for a closer and harder look at the Indian telecom policies once

again? Perhaps yes, if one does not close his eyes to all the new developments

that are happening around us. The changes in network technology, increasing

number of big players, emergence of new access devices, demand for more and

newer services that will require more flexibility, and the limited amount of a

key resource-spectrum.

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Experts claim, and rightly so, that as we see operators adopting

next-generation network architecture, and deployment of soft-switches and more

advanced OSS/BSS solutions, challenges will go up, if simultaneous re-defining

of policies such as for inter-connect, are not worked out. Similarly, the

existing framework has no flexibility to accommodate new services like IPTV. If

MTNL starts offering IPTV, will the operator then be a telecom operator or

become a broadcast company.

It does not require any crystal gazing to figure out that when operators

start transitioning from TDM to IP-based network technology, where flexible and

on demand bandwidth allocation to even the service providers will be possible,

regulatory inadequacies will come in the way.

Problems will not come only from technology advances at the service provider

end. What happens when a range of end-user devices including PDAs, smartphones,

laptops, would want to access the network and derive all information and

services, without restrictions? The current policies and licensing issues will

be a bottleneck, and require a quick resolution. That is if the government wants

operators and users in India to keep pace with technology, and be able to

leverage it. 

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The change in policies is needed as well as inevitable because more and more

intelligence is now getting built into telecom networks, which on one hand

permit separation of the network, transport and application layers of the

network, and on the other allow all of them to be managed seamlessly. This means

that different types of users will want anywhere, anytime, any type of service

from their operators. Also, the operators will not just be pipe suppliers, but

will keep adding value to the services they offer, in terms of information as

well as entertainment.

It will therefore be important to review both cable and broadcast laws in the

light of telecom laws, or vice versa, so that delivery of same services using

different network platforms is possible, and there is no compromise with quality

of services and tariffs, and no confusion in the market place. The Ministry of

Communication and the DoT, which fortunately has the full backing of the other

arms of the government, must fine-tune the regulatory framework for the

communications industry so that it keeps pace with emerging technology and user

needs.

It is crucial that India moves fast not just in terms of the number of

subscribers and manufacturing shops. India needs to move fast with its policies

also that enable better utilization of technology and services. Everybody knows

that quality of service in the country is questionable today; that not many new

services based on new technologies are coming up. Clear and better-defined

policies in the light of new technical possibilities will surely help.

ibrahima@cybermedia.co.in

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