Licensing framework for convergence needs to be revisited: TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela
As the boundaries between broadcasting and telecommunications sectors are getting blurred due to the advent of digital technologies. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman PD Vaghela on Wednesday said the licensing framework and governance structure need to be re-looked at to ensure orderly growth of the broadband, broadcast and IT sectors.
He said that whatever regulatory framework should be light touch, should be framed and the government should regulate only when needed. The new market structure necessitates redefining the role of market players such as service providers, infrastructure providers and cable operators. “Apart from telecom and broadcasting, there may also be a need to include the over-the-top (OTT) world while making the necessary reforms,” Vaghela said during a conference organized by IIT Kanpur and Telecom Standards Development Society, India. (TSDSI).
“There is a need for a robust and holistic technology-neutral regulatory and policy framework to regulate the new convergence environment of broadcast and broadband services. Secondly, policy should be in place for better synergy and ease of doing business by issuing all broadcast and cable service licenses. With regard to the related business processes should also align,” he said.
The Speaker highlighted how many officials are involved in granting permission to India. For example, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) deals with issues related to communication including voice, video and data, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) deals with development of information and broadcasting technologies and content regulations and technology. has led to overlapping of functions.
“For example, IPTV is allowed by DoT as well as MIB. For policy decisions, there are several authorities like DoT, MIB, Ministry of Electronics and IT and Department of Space,” he said.
With technological advancements, it is now possible for broadband networks to offer broadcast services and vice versa. “With content consumption in India rapidly shifting to smartphones and video consumption becoming a major driver of mobile data growth in India, it has become imperative to bring live broadcast capabilities to mobile phones. It is anticipated that broadcast enabled smartphones and mobile phones will be able to stream multiple high-quality video and audio services, make better use of valuable spectrum and reduce the burden on cellular networks,” Vaghela said.