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technology or service?
chance meeting with one of the telecom industry veterans sparked
off an interesting debate about the current telecom imbroglio
in the country. Not with any specific reference to limited
mobility through wireless in local loop technology, which
incidentally, is giving the cellphone biggies sleepless nights,
but to telecom services in particular.
do we have piecemeal liberalization in India when we should
just open up the gates and let investment, technical expertise,
and managerial talents flow in uninhibited? This is the question
that seems to be bothering many analysts and well-wishers.
Why does the government don the mantle of big brother instead
of letting the market dynamics determine the winner or loser?
The consumer should get a choice of service and charges, purely
depending on what suits his requirements rather than what
is good for this industry or that.
arguments continued on these lines for a while, before we
both realized that what we were actually keen on was a unified
license for service providers. Wherein, a single pipe into
the consumer's office or home would deliver a host of services
such as Internet, entertainment, interactive learning and
the like. That would really connote convergence in the true
the networking industry is all too familiar with converging
voice and data on an IP protocol, technology convergence is
one thing and service convergence is another. The latter is
far more challenging both in terms of technology, implementation
interesting analogy would be distribution of electricity,
which is always available in an office or home through electric
sockets. You plug in your music system, when you feel like,
or run a mixer when you need to, or connect your computer
for work. The basic assumption is that electricity is there
for you as a utility. You can use it at will and pay for what
you have used.
we need to have bandwidth into the house as a utility. You
just plug in your console, which can be a television, a computer
or any other device that can give you a choice of voice, audio
and video and pay for whatever services you are using. There
are enough technologies to make this happen but what we are
lacking perhaps is the will to get going.
always looked to the western world for some precedence, we
are stuck without the so-called `leadership' examples. It
is high time India set the trend rather than nurturing a herd
mentality. Let us not look too far. What did the Japanese
do? If Japan's NTT DoCoMo had waited for a precedent, its
wireless data access service Imode would not have been what
it is today. Today the rest of the world is gaping with awe
at the Imode success story and want to replicate it in their
own countries. Do we a have a lesson in this Imode saga?
we have achieved is an array of telecom services, all right,
but we have also been burdened with several billing patterns,
differing service rates, poor customer care services and limited
penetration. So we have a handful of basic telephone service
providers, a set of mobile phone operators offering WAP-enabled
services for data, Net access providers and cable television
operators-all fighting for the consumer's mind share and pockets.
Slowly the Direct-To-Home operators will also jump into the
same ring, causing further chaos. More for the consumers as
well as policy makers.
the extensive copper cable already in place, thanks to BSNL
and MTNL and a vast network of fiber optic cables being laid
out by private players and some government organizations,
India is now building its infrastructure base. This is the
right time to focus on services with a unified licensing scheme,
which would give users a multiple choice, but without any
ensure fair play, all existing licensees can upgrade with
a fee or however the regulator thinks fit, but upgrade they
should and start looking at converging their services for
the benefit of the consumer. Check out our supplement on convergence,
which you must have got along with this issue, for more food
for thought on this subject.