NTP 2012: Will it help or destroy the Industry: http://wp.me/s1ZsI2-531
Introduction: Ushering in PAN India Service. Great, though 17 years too late. Making the Mobile Service area co-terminus with the telecom circle was the greatest mistake. If interconnects between own networks in different circles were allowed, Mobile operators could have made considerable saving in CAPEX and OPEX.
In 1995, even a direct interconnect between mobile operators within a city was not allowed. (Only after persuasion, DOT gave a provisional approval for direct interconnect between the two Network Operators in Mumbai.) Since then NOs had been pursuing DOT to allow interconnects of systems between circles for years in vain. The need of it was realized by DOT only many years later when BSNL entered mobile business.
Please see blog on ‘A new outlook on PAN India Telecom’ a paper I wrote in 2003. http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-8W Spectrum had been always an issue. However the allocation on a base price and revenue sharing basis that in vogue was more or less satisfactory except for the delays from WPC and DOT in giving out allotments. From causing improvement in that DOT & TRAI had messed up everything and given a big stick to opposition to political mileage of it. Somehow telecom India remain like that proverbial elephant being taken care of and lead by set of blind men who have no idea of even how it looks like.
Please also see my blog: Telecom business in Rural India. Please see my blog: http://wp.me/s1ZsI2-213
In general I have the following comments on NTP2012:
1) De-linking of Spectrum from License.
Does it mean that new entrants have to buy Spectrum first and then get the License?
Or is it that everyone buying Spectrum will be given License? Then is it not like linking of License with Spectrum instead of the other way around, as is what is now?
Will the Govt. sell only limited number of Licenses depending on availability of Spectrum? How can govt. foresee the number of prospective licensee before hand?
What happens if some company buys License and is unable to get Spectrum through auction process? Will Govt. refund the cost of License?
What will happen at the expiry of to incumbent operator’s current license period? Will their license be extended with spectrum being used or will they have to buy fresh license and then buy spectrum? When and How? How can anyone be sure of getting spectrum in an open auction?
By delinking Spectrum from License, is it Govt’s intention to bring the Licensee under compulsion to get Spectrum through auction at very high cost?
Or does the govt. envisage that new entrant can become a Service Provider buying only the License and share Systems and Networks of the existing Network Operators? Then it becomes the MVNO model which is great concept. http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-t But the NTP 2012 points other way around.
2) Re farming of spectrum: NTP2012 envisages that entire Spectrum including that presently available with existing Network Operators and other departments will be re farmed and allocated. Great!
It is also envisaged that Spectrum thus allocated can then be used for any type of present and futuristic Voice/Data/VOIP and Multimedia services. It cannot mean that there is no technology/use/ user based allocation as same band of spectrum cannot be used for same type of technology products by different users especially in PAN India network scenario, and hence discriminative allocation, technology wise as well as use and user based is inevitable.
It naturally raises the question; Allocation means what? Does it mean that Spectrum will be allotted in lots in a periodic manner considering the requirements of Network Operators? Then how can Govt. take care of specific need of individual operator? What will happen to the companies already in operation if they have to compete with new entrants for getting additional spectrum for expansion needs?
3. How auction is a method if supply equals demand?
According to NTP 2012, Govt will make available enough Spectrum for all and Modus Operandi of selling of Spectrum will be decided from time to time. Will it not be like ‘Supply equals or exceeds Demand’ in which situation, prospect of selling Spectrum by auction is automatically becomes null and void.
So far so good; It will then lead to the long tried and worked simple solution of allocating Spectrum to the needy as and when they require it, at a base price or on a revenue share model or both, and not by auction; because why should any company buy something that is available in plenty at a higher price through auction?
Then the question arise that does the Licensee has the option to buy the Spectrum in staggered way as and when they need it for expansion of existing network as well as for implementing new technology service? Again why should Network Operators buy something that they will need many years later? http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-3
With MPLS on OFC for long and short haul transport and modern WiFi / WiMax etc., for end links is considered the future technology, will it be prudent to spend a lot now on conventional wireless spectrum as convergence of networks systems and user devices will become the trend of the future. http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-26
4. With convergence and with LTE & NGN in place, who will need Pan India spectrum?
Another important aspect is that convergence of ICT and IP is bringing together entire world and it is necessary to have a uniform standard spectrum usage pan, so as to make the networks systems and user devices are compliant to universal standards. India cannot have standalone plans on such technology matters.
5) The fate of PAN India Mobile network portability. Network portability is an already obsolete technology borrowed from the fixed network scenario where concept of roaming is not there. In the mobile telephony everyone is in roaming condition even while in his home network. With regional, national and international roaming features, the user can be anywhere and can avail service from any network, own or of other provider’s without any change in his phone number.
In fact it is worthwhile considering to make roaming facility available for Fixed network subscribers also with converged systems.
Therefore, MNP is meaningful only if a user is not happy with the quality and type of service and feature offered by his current service provider. The feeling that the ‘other side of the river is greener’ is mostly mythic mirage.
How can someone predict that current numbering plans are going to remain stationery for long? The way ICT grow, there will be much changes in the methods of switching and numbering plans in the near future. http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-t
The solution lies in insistence of quality and imposing disincentives for defaulters. Users can be given option like use of preferred carrier and networks by appropriate technology and not by MNP. If users finds that better /more services are available from other service provider, they can always switch to it but at the cost of loosing his number.
MNP is disruptive for technology wise especially when migrating to modern systems, as well as for administrative costs and efforts. Better to do away with it.
Conclusion: If we analyze the whole thing, NTP2012 is ‘much a do about nothing’. The workable solution is always has been to make available enough Spectrum, allocate to the needy from time to time as and they need it, at an affordable base cost or revenue sharing model or both, keeping in mind that growth in telecom and telecom Industry is more in the interest of the nation than of the Industrialists.
One thing lacking in NTP2012 is the push to use of ICT for the general good of the people. Value added systems such as Un-banked Money management and Pay by Phone services are helpful to quickly realize the much talked about ‘Financial Inclusion” of people in the lower Socio-economic strata across the country. Govt. should come out of the myth that Un-banked Pay by phone services will be disruptive to Banking Industry. The fact will the other way around as the large number of POS handling huge e-money transactions will be dependent on the banking service more.
Please read ‘Universal Exclusively banked Money Management by phone’ http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-4g The quicker Government opens out this service, the better it will be for the users, the Telcos and the Government.
Also please see my blog Rural Telecom growth plans remain topsy-turvy. http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-a0
Author P. Abraham Paul e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet @PA_Paul