“In the era of convergence, government cannot micro-manage technologies. It has to design a policy that broadly rides the technology curves. The goal should be to facilitate technological surprises on networks and services that benefit customers and stimulate business model innovation,” said Peter Cowhey, Dean of the Graduate School for International Affairs and Pacific Studies, and former Chief of the International Bureau, FCC. He was speaking at the national seminar on ‘Regulatory Issues in the Age of Convergence’, organised by CII in Delhi on June 28, 2006.
Lambasting the concept of level-playing field, Cowhey said, “The government should use regulatory power to push competition to benefit consumers, not to manage ‘level-playing fields’ or assure equitable distribution of benefits among suppliers.”
Giving the examples of TiVo and the Sling Box, Cowhey said that the biggest challenge convergence was throwing was the end of traditional market boundaries and pricing. “Pricing structures for voice are already collapsing with 22 per cent of US local phone customers expected to move to VoIP by 2010, and the same may also happen to mobiles,” he held.
Making his presentation, Qualcomm President, Paul E Jacobs, said, “Mobile will be the only PC that many people will have in future as convergence is happening on the small screen in communication, computing, entertainment, health, etc.”
TRAI Chiarman, Nripendra Mishra, said, “Though India’s achievements in the field of telephony has been remarkable, we have not been able to maximise synergy of equipment used and the manufacturing ability of this country.”
“Technology has pushed convergence to the forefront. Convergence is a reality now. Today, we cannot compartmentalise and then regulate. Convergence has put serious challenges to regulators, who have traditionally worked in a limited technical scope. Everyday at TRAI, we are facing this problem with the policy that we are envisaging and then again redefining it to broaden the scope,” he added.
Regarding the long pending spectrum allocation issue, Mishra said, “While we are taking into consideration the Indian situation, we are also trying to bring it in tune with the international standards. But it is not that easy as there are conflicting interests, and whatever decision we take, we will be accused of supporting one or the other.”
R Chandrasekhar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology, who is heading the e-governance project of the Government, said, “Paucity of infrastructure is a negative ‘advantage’ with India and, therefore, provides a huge opportunity. The Government is planning 100,000 service access points by 2007. To provide faster connectivity to the villages, the Government has decided to provide the last mile access through wireless connectivity.”
“We need to build a convergent platform where the emerging industries like education and entertainment can utilise it for their benefit,” he added.