Cable TV can help connect the unconnected in India: TRAI Chairman

By Xite - January 31, 2019
Speakers from the telecom ecosystem at the 27th Convergence India 2019 expo emphasised the need to explore technologies like fibre over the air and leveraging existing power distribution infrastructur....

‘India is a country that can lead innovations for solving specific problems and fibre is just one way and not the only way of establishing connectivity. And to take the internet and broadband to remote regions of the country, cable TV can be one of the most efficient ways of connecting the unconnected,’ said R S Sharma, Chairman, TRAI at the 27th Convergence India 2019 expo.

He further added, ‘We can learn a lot of from some of the most successful internet and television companies in the world. We need to be open to other channels, be it satellites, cable or wireless and work towards developing newer, holistic technologies that overcome existing challenges to building a fully connected nation. We are also working on strengthening nation-wide connectivity through Bharatnet, which will play a major role in enhancing the country’s overall infrastructure in the near future.’

BharatNet focuses on bringing high-speed broadband connectivity to rural India. In collaboration with Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), the government has taken a step forward to connect nearly 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats. The programme will offer benefits, such as facilitating connectivity of Gram Panchayat level offices like schools, panchayat offices, post offices, etc., and services like certificates, telehealth, e-Education, agriculture information, etc. to the rural population. It will help reduce the digital divide across socio-economic strata and provide learning and employment opportunities for rural youth.

‘Today, the convergence of various telecommunications channels offers us the chance to deliver enhanced services to consumers. We can use different alternatives like the vast network of power cable lines to send data, although not high-speed internet, but data at nominals speeds to at least provide a basic level of internet connectivity in those areas where broadband or mobile/wireless internet penetration is still very low,’ added Neena Pahuja, Director General, ERNET, India.

From education and healthcare to automobiles, connectivity is the underlying requirement to create inter-linked systems that can exchange data and solve major problems in India. The government has already laid fibre in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, where connectivity disruptions happen only due to bad weather. ‘This is why we need more research that can come up with alternative methods of building a fibre network across different geographies,’ Pahuja said.

‘These are very exciting times, and even though we are still at the early days of technology convergence, the future is particularly promising. Fibre over the air is one of the most important innovations in terms of connectivity and will change how DTH and internet services are delivered. This will be done either through a full fibre stack or last-mile technology enabled by 5G,’ said Gulzar Azad, Country Head Connectivity, Google India.

However, this is also dependent on various factors, like how high-end fibre spectrum is distributed, how fibre over the air technology evolves and also on the fact that set-top boxes will have to be manufactured in a way so as to be able to provide data.

FSO or fibre over the air systems support all types of data transmission, including voice and video. It is typically used for short-haul bandwidth-intensive applications where cable systems are not available or too costly to implement.

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