December 2007

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DoT Prepares Reverse Spectrum Norms
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of India has prepared an internal note on reverse spectrum allocation norms by giving new applicants of telecom licences preference in spectrum, due to be released by the defence forces early 2008.

The current allocation norms give priority to incumbents awaiting for additional spectrum followed by licence-holders who are awaiting spectrum to launch services, and applicants for dual-use technology (GSM and CDMA services). New licence applicants come last on this list. Now, the DoT note proposes that three new operators should be allocated 4.4 Mhz of each of the 20 Mhz of spectrum that will be freed up by the defence services. The note also discusses the sharing spectrum with other operators for the utilisation of spectrum.

New Rules Regarding Interconnection Agreements in Philippines

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has proposed new rules regarding interconnection agreements between telecom carriers and voice over IP (VoIP) providers in the country. NTC Chief Jorge Sarmiento has said that the proposals are aimed at addressing mounting complaints coming from VoIP firms, which need to ‘negotiate’ separate interconnection agreements with local telephone carriers.

According to a news article by Inquirer.net, the Philippine telecommunications regulator said the rules will tackle the ‘easing of requirements for interconnection agreements’ that VoIP firms are required to sign with telecom carriers before these VoIP providers can offer the service. One major problem that the VoIP vendors have is the ‘difficulties in sealing’ the interconnection contracts with the telephone carriers, Sarmiento said. Under the regulator’s new set of rules, VoIP providers will only need to sign a single interconnection agreement with a telephone carrier.

Plan Outlined for County-wide Wireless Access in Columbiana
Columbiana County Port Authority is planning for country-wide wireless Internet access. The council has formed a group to promote technological advancement in the East Liverpool area. The Port Authority plans to develop wireless access using a fibre-optic network already in place.

The Port Authority plans to develop wireless access using a fiber-optic network already in place. Twenty-six school districts in Columbiana and Mahoning counties joined together in 2002 to purchase the fiber-optic network, called ACCESS. As it was developed, the schools ran into cost overruns and found that the system was more robust than necessary for their use, so the Port Authority stepped in to purchase two of the 12 fiber optic strands.

The Port Authority’s plan is to hang wireless transmitters from water towers, other state structures or telephone poles. County residents would need to purchase between $50 and $100 of equipment for their home to receive the wireless signals, then they would probably pay from $15 to $30 per month for service. There will probably be tiered service, with more bandwidth available for a higher fee.

Proposal to Encourage Wi-Fi Development in China

The Chinese government will work with ICT companies to formulate a proposal encouraging the development of Wi-Fi applications for leveraging on the government’s free Wi-Fi services.
The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma stated that more than 60 bureaux and departments have deployed wireless-mobile technologies in about 200 IT systems. The government will continue to leverage Web 2.0 technologies to enhance interaction with and receive feedback from the public. The government is encouraging bureaux and departments to follow the Web 2.0 development and make use of the applicable technologies to engage the public and improve public service delivery in their specific policy areas.

Alaska Power & Telephone Brings Broadband to Rural Village

Alaska Power and Telephone Company (AP&T) has collaborated with the Organised Village of Kasaan (OVK) to provide wireless broadband technology that will bring telemedicine, distance learning and other benefits to the people of Kasaan in Alaska.

The project will enhance the local quality of life, business and tribal members will be encouraged to return to or stay in Kasaan. OVT will provide Internet access for the rural community. The OVT procured US $1 million in grant funds under the Federal ‘Community Connect Broadband Grant Programme’ that helped build the infrastructure necessary for the village to gain high-speed access to the outside world. Under this project AP&T will provide variety of technologies such as access to telemedicine, distance learning, connection to other tribal organisations, reduction of travel costs and personal skill-set training in computer and data technologies.

TRAI Report says Telecom Subscribers Crosses 7.64 Million
Around 7.64 million telephone connections have been added in India during September 2007. The telecom Authority of India (TRAI) stated in its press release that the number of subscribers have already crossed 250 million.

TRAI is expecting that the reach of telephone subscribers will cross 500 million by 2010. The gross number of telephone subscribers by September 2007 is 248.66 million as compared to 241.02 million in August, 2007, the overall tele-density reached 21.85 % in September 2007 as against 21.20% in August, 2007. While in the wireless segment, there is an addition of 7.80 million subscribers in the month of September 2007 as against 8.31 million subscribers addition in the

month of August 2007. The total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA and WLL(F)) base reached 209.08 million at the end of September 2007. In the wireline segment, subscribers base decreased to 39.58 million in the month of September 2007 as against 39.73 million subscribers in August 2007.

RCoM, Shyam, HFCL Get DoT Nod for Offering GSM Services
The Reliance Communications (RCoM) along with two other CDMA players, has received approvals to offer GSM services in their respective circles of operation from the Department of Telecom (DoT). Now, Reliance Communications can offer GSM services nationwide under DoT’s existing Unified Access Service Licences (UASL). The other two companies that received the approval are: Mahendra Nahata-promoted HFCL and Shyam Telecom. Meanwhile, the association of existing GSM players, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has strongly opposed the move saying it is illegal to give permission to these players. COAI stated that without prejudice to all submissions that such crossover/dual allocation of spectrum cannot and should not be permitted, it can only be done through change in both policy as well as licence as also after following the law. RCoM offers its services in different circles across the nation, while Mahendra Nahata-promoted HFCL is a operator in Punjab, and Shyam Telecom operates in Rajasthan circle.

Tatas Apply for GSM Spectrum
After Reliance, the Tata group has applied for GSM spectrum in 20 circles across India. The company has applied through two Tata-promoted companies Tata Teleservices Ltd, and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd.

The Tata Teleservices Ltd has applied for spectrum in 18 circles. Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd. runs CDMA services in Maharashtra and Mumbai. The Tata application follows permission from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for operators to receive dual spectrum that enable operators to provide mobile services for both CDMA and GSM services on the same licence. But still there is no clarity on how the Tata application would be assessed in terms of priority. This would place the Tata group between number two and number four in the queue for spectrum allocation in most of the circles for which it has applied, just behind R-Com.

Connecting the Next 500 Million
A conference on ‘Connecting the Next 500 Million: Telecom Roadmap for the 11th Five Year Plan 2007 – 12’, was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Giving the key note address, R R Shah, Member Secretary, Planning Commission, stated that the next phase of telecom growth will be driven by broadband paradigm.

A majority of the next 500 million customers in telecom will be in the rural areas, through rural connectivity. The approach to enable this will require the government to review the strategy pursued so far, and bring substantial change in policy framework followed, to enable the growth of the Telecom industry during the next Plan period according to Shah. He informed that the Government is planning to develop villages as knowledge centers.

There is a whole set of need at the rural level which has to be converted into opportunity in which Information and Communication technologies will have a major role. Local content has to be encouraged to implement e-Governance applications and connect rural India for the overall inclusive growth. Sanjeev Aga, Chairman – CII National Committee on Telecom and Broadband and Managing Director, Idea Cellular Limited said that telecom industry is facing the challenges of interconnectivity as well as growth and expansion within the sector. He emphasised on the need that the government should instill confidence of the telecom industry by planning standard policies for the sector. Aga suggested that telecom policy should be integrated with national planning process undertaken by the Planning Commision.

D Shivakumar, VP and Managing Director, Nokia India Pvt. Ltd. said that telecom sector in India has grown because of innovative schemes offered by Indian operators. Growing economy, consumer spend, consistency of policy framework, operator’s innovation and affordable handset will enable the telecom sector to reach the target of 500 million connections by 2010. The telecom growth will bring prosperity in rural areas and push the productivity in all the sectors. Affordability and availability of infrastructure will be key challenges for telecom industry to reach the rural customer. Value added services (VAS) industry is going to reach Rs.77,823 crores in 2012 which would be around 25% of mobile telephony market.

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