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Need to revisit licensing framework for convergence: Trai chairman PD Vaghela

The chairman highlighted how multiple authorities are involved in permitting India.

The regulator has received a reference to begin consultation on the same from the Department of Telecom (DoT), TRAI chairman PD Vaghela had said last week.
With technological advancement, it is now possible for broadband networks to offer broadcasting services and vice versa.

As boundaries are blurring between the broadcasting and telecom sectors due to the advent of digital technologies. There is a need to revisit the licencing framework and governance structure to ensure orderly growth of broadband, broadcasting and IT sector, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman PD Vaghela said on Wednesday.

He said whatever regulatory framework should be light-touch, formulated and government should regulate only if required. Redefining the role of market players such as service providers, infrastructure providers and cable operators is required for the new market structure. “In addition to the telecom and broadcasting, the over-the-top (OTT) world may also be required to be factored in while carrying out required reforms,” Vaghela said during a conclave organised by IIT Kanpur and Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI).

“A robust and holistic technology-neutral regulatory and policy framework is required to regulate the newly converged environment of broadcasting and broadband services. Secondly, the policy should also align the corresponding business processes with regard to the issuance of all broadcasting and cable service licences for better synergy and ease of doing business,” he said.

The chairman highlighted how multiple authorities are involved in permitting India. For instance, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) deals with issues related to communications, including voice, video and data, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) deals with information and broadcasting technologies and content regulations and with the evolution of technology, this has led to the overlapping of functions.

“For example, IPTV permission is granted by DoT as well as MIB. For policy decisions, there are multiple authorities like DoT, MIB, Ministry of Electronics and IT, and Department of space,” he said.

With technological advancement, it is now possible for broadband networks to offer broadcasting services and vice versa. “With the content consumption in India increasingly shifting to smartphones and video consumption becoming the key driver of mobile data growth in India, it becomes imperative to bring direct broadcasting capabilities to mobile phones. It is anticipated that broadcast capable smartphones and mobile phones will be able to stream multiple high-quality video and audio services, optimally utilising valuable spectrum and easing the burden on cellular networks,” Vaghela said.

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