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India Digital Networks Summit: Experts stress on switchover to digital mode

India Digital Networks Summit: Experts stress on switchover to digital mode

Author | Pallavi Goorha | Thursday, Oct 18,2007 8:44 AM

India Digital Networks Summit: Experts stress on switchover to digital mode

The day-long India Digital Networks Summit 2007 held in the Capital on October 17 threw new light on India’s communications and entertainment industries. The Summit, in its third year, is the ultimate tool with which to navigate the digital maze on regulation, TV channel proliferation and fragmentation, CAS, DTH, broadband, investment, and expansion strategies.

Supported by both the I&B Ministry and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the summit

In the keynote session address on the regulatory road map issue, Asha Swarup, Secretary, I&B Ministry, said, “The phenomenal growth of the Indian entertainment industry is due to good performance of the Indian economy. The annual growth in TV this year is 22 per cent, while it is 28 per cent in radio. One of the key developments is the key transition from analog to the digital mode. We have to formulate an organised plan for digitalisation and TRAI has made some recommendations in that regard. However, no date has been fixed for digitalisation in India, although plans have been been made to implement it by 2010. The migration to digital mode in Delhi will take place before the Commonwealth Games in 2010, followed by the Tier 2 towns by 2015.”

Swarup further said that growth of CAS hadn’t been as much as was expected. TRAI had said that voluntary CAS wouldn’t be possible because of revenues. Various problems were cited – all MSOs and cable can’t agree at same time for switchover to digital mode; residents won’t pay for the set top boxes, etc. In order to speed up digitalisation in other cities, the Government has asked TRAI to come up with a draft on this issue.

Speaking at the summit, Lord David Currie, Chairman, Ofcom UK, said, “Our purpose is to understand the Indian communication market. Exchange of ideas and commerce is important to understand each other’s markets. Embracing digital convergence is a challenge to both the UK and India. In the UK, we don’t have government funding in this regard, which gives us the necessary independence from government. This benefits the government in the long run as well.”

He further said, “Convergence is bringing huge benefits to consumers. Revenues are coming from non-traditional resources. Convergence also helps consumers to make well-informed choices.”

Talking about the switchover to the digital mode, Currie said, “We need to encourage the digital media. The important point is management of radio spectrum. Ninety-five per cent of the UK has radio spectrum. We are looking to liberalise 2G licenses. Spectrum pricing and liberalisation is important. We will switch off the analog signal by 2012.”

Rajiv Choubey, Principtal Advisor to TRAI, said, “Cable services should be made affordable as India is a price-sensitive country. Consolidation should be there in the cable TV market. There is a huge amount of fragmentation in the cable TV market, and unless we push consolidation, these markets won’t grow. Once you push digitalisation aggressively, fragmentation will reduce. There are only 17 million cable TV homes in India today.”

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