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Others SCAT 2005: TRAI Chairperson Pradip Baijal assures encouraging regulations; urges Cos to go rural

SCAT 2005: TRAI Chairperson Pradip Baijal assures encouraging regulations; urges Cos to go rural

Author | Saurabh Niranjan Turakhia | Wednesday, Oct 26,2005 7:47 AM

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SCAT 2005: TRAI Chairperson Pradip Baijal assures encouraging regulations; urges Cos to go rural

SCAT 2005, the annual tradeshow for the satellite and cable TV industry, got underway in Mumbai on October 25. Several international and domestic players in the satellite, cable and broadband industry are taking part in the three-day event, including Motorola and Ortel. There is also a sizeable presence of Chinese companies at the tradeshow.

Addressing the inaugural session of the 14th edition of the SCAT, TRAI Chairperson, Pradip Baijal, said that the presence of a regulator for the telecom industry had enabled to bring about a sea change in the state of affairs. Baijal also highlighted the need to tap the rural stratum as well.

Pushing the cause for a unified license, Baijal said that the same had been recommended by TRAI to the government and was being examined for implementation. Remarking that the entrepreneur was far brighter than technocrats, bureaucrats and politicians, Baijal noted that though growth in the cable industry had taken place in an unregulated regime till now, with regulation in place, the industry was set to see further growth.

Speaking on the failure of CAS (Conditional Access System), Baijal said, “The unusual peculiarity of India is that pay TV has been introduced before CAS, whereas the reverse is followed in other nations. A pragmatic solution has to be worked out by the operators and the market.”

Quoting the example of the telecom boom, Baijal said that today’s consumer was very smart and would opt for any solution only if it matched his expectations and affordability.

He expressed hope that as more players entered the DT market and with the growth of the IPTV market, cable television would have healthy competition, which in turn would work to the advantage of the consumers.

Baijal’s recommendations for growth in the hitherto untapped rural market include attractive schemes for players through subsidising of infrastructure ultimately, leading to the entire nation networked through the mobile. He also observed that the glitch right now was that the USO, which in effect, had the policy with regard to fixed landline phones, ought to be amended to work for mobile phones instead.

Baijal justified the move saying, “Today urban teledensity is 32 per cent, while rural teledensity lags behind at just 2 per cent. If the objective of achieving 4 per cent teledensity in 2010 is to be met through the current USO norms, a good Rs 40,000 crore would be needed. Instead, a practical solution is in the form of subsidising infrastructure in such a manner that the whole nation is connected through the mobile.”

On content regulation, Baijal clarified that it was out of TRAI’s domain as the Convergence Act had not been in force. Had it been implemented, TRAI would have been managing content regulation, which was now under the domain of the Ministry.

On the performance of broadband, Baijal admitted that against the objective of achieving three million connections by the end of 2005, only 0.6 million had been achieved by September end.

He added, “The big shortfall of two million was on account of not following TRAI’s recommendation of unbundling the last mile. BSNL as well as MTNL opposed unbundling of the last mile. While together, they can put broadband for around eight million connections, the duo has just managed 0.26 million, which speaks for the underperformance.”

SCAT 2005 will see interactive sessions on topics like digital transmission demonstration by DD, launch of low cost digital TVs in addition to a TRAI interactive session.

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