Convergence Comes Full Circle: IMC

by Sunil Kumar    Mar 16, 2007

The 5th International Conference on Communications Convergence: ‘New Tech, New Business Horizons’ emphasized on using technology to facilitate technology change and accelerate growth of convergence in India.

The convergence impact on business would be significant given changing business models, mergers/acquisitions with businesses outside core competencies, contracts/ alliances with multiple vendors, new regulatory/standard considerations, network neutrality and using intellectual property/content transferred in digital environments. Revenue streams from multiple sources/ end-users would impact businesses rapidly in the future.

The needs of the rural poor have been neglected. Sam Pitroda, Chairman, NKC(National Knowledge Commission) emphasized on the need to build a national network in India given diversity and geographical spread of the country and multiple networks in the country. Pitroda spoke about investments of nearly $1 billion or 400-500 crores per year to take growth in a massive country such as India to the next level.

The existing subscriber bases in India had moved from 1.8 million to 20 million PCs, 51 million landlines & 65 million cable households. Along with 150 million mobiles, India was one of the fastest growing cellular markets in the world which was potentially a hub for massive growth in convergence.

He also stressed on the need for public debate, vocational education with labs and facilities to accelerate the growth of convergence in India. Pitroda added that he was working with Dr. D.P.S Seth and other members of the NKC to bring this vision closer to reality.

Jignesh Shah, CEO, Financial Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. stressed on the need to build a business infrastructure scaling from 5,000 nodes to 30,000 nodes, mass-scale regular convergence and business innovation. Shah added that different and innovative communication technologies would move India into the fast lane.

Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman&MD, Mahindra&Mahindra, spoke on the need for use of technology to shape the future and building a collaborative community.

Jayantrao Patil, Minister for Finance & Planning, Govt. of Maharashtra, emphazised on the need for a world class infrastructure in India. Patil spoke about increasing teledensity in India to reach global levels.

Lara Srivastava, Senior Policy Analyst, International Telecommunications Union, Geneva stressed on growth in telecommunications sector worldwide and an increasing move towards a virtual world.

Vijay P Bhatkar, Chairman, ETH Research Lab stressed on “Computers&Telecom”: ‘How They Are Merged and its Impact’. Speaking on the history of convergence in India, Bhatkar detailed evolution from low latency networks in 1985 to 2007, a year that he believed was critical for convergence in India.

R.A. Mashelkar, Former Director-General, CSIR & CSIR Bhatnagar Family, NCL, spoke about the role of R&D in shaping a converged world. Mashelkar added that R&D was becoming an integral part of the mindset in India.

Giving a China-India comparison, he stressed on the need of R&D becoming a more prevalent part of the Indian landscape. The current spending on R&D in India was a mere 0.78% while China had increased spending to nearly 1.09%. He also spoke about increasing the number of researchers from 157 per million to nearly 200,000 per million, to promote science and technology.

A move towards corporate and institutional convergence with a multiplicity of devices was what the overall convergence scene would be in the near future. As global communications became more cheaper and there was a move towards a communications setup revolving around IP-NGN , social contexts would witness a rapid and transformational change and there would be a national setup involving increasing communications and creation of IPR on a national level.

Arpita Pal Agarwal, Associate-Director-InfoComm Advisory Service, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Pvt Ltd. elaborated on overhauling the legacy setup in India and bringing current networks in sync with global best practices. Agarwal claimed that recent notable changes in India including the acquisition of the Hutch network by Vodafone were indicative of changes in India and how India would increasingly integrate in a changed global landcape.