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India poised to see triple-play growth

Having seen exponential mobile growth, country now expects to see broadband and video take off in big way, say delegates at recent convergence event.
Written by Swati Prasad, Contributor

INDIA--After the country's mobile boom, broadband and IPTV are now set to trigger a second wave of growth for the Indian telecom industry, according to delegates at the recently-concluded Convergence India 2009.

Speaking at the conference keynote last week, Siddharth Behura, secretary of the Indian government's department of telecommunications, said: "In today's world, convergence is the keyword. All facets of communication have converged digitally onto the mobile handset."

Behura underscored the role communications technology can play in reducing the country's digital divide. "Our main concern is to bridge the gap between urban and rural India," he said.

Participants from 19 countries, including China, Germany, India, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States, participated in the three-day event that began March 18. It marked several announcements, where Sai Info Systems India, for instance, launched its video phone service across half of India in collaboration with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigar Ltd (BSNL).

Ekinops also made its debut in the Indian market at the event. "If mobile telephony can grow at the pace that it did in India, so can broadband," Marc Olivier, Asia vice president at Ekinops, told ZDNet Asia in an interview. Ekinops is a provider of next-generation optical transport, CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) and DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) for service providers and enterprise networks.

"This is our first engagement with India. With the coming in of broadband telephony in India, we are confident the country will play a key role in our future plans," Olivier said. Today, half of Ekinops' revenues come from the United States, 30 percent from Europe and 20 percent from the rest of the world. "We expect Asia's share to grow to 30 percent by 2012, and India will play a key role in helping us achieve that target," he added.

Earlier this year, telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nagar Ltd (MTNL) and BSNL, added IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) to their services portfolio.

"Video will be the next important traffic in the networks," Vijay Yadav, South Asia managing director at UTStarcom said, adding that HomePNA is a good standard for implementing home networks. Formerly called Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HPNA), HomePNA is a non-profit industry association encompassing companies that develop networking technology over existing coaxial cables and phone wires within the home.

"IPTV is a killer application that is driving home networking. In India, this is the first time that service providers are providing entertainment," said William Simmelink, president of CopperGate Communications.

However, Yonsub Lee, Cisco Systems' business development manager, noted that telecom companies cannot generate much revenue through IPTV alone. "By itself, IPTV is not a profitable business. Besides, Indian telcos do not have any experience in the television business," Lee said, noting that key drivers for IPTV will include services such as real-time video-on-demand, WebTV, mobile TV, portal base TV, T-commerce (television-commerce), home shopping, e-governance and remote education.

Cloud to drive infosecurity
And with the emergence of new technologies comes the challenge of infosecurity. "Today, security solutions need to be open, scalable, virtual as well as integrated," Kartik Shahani, said McAfee's regional sales director for India and South Asia.

He noted that malware risks have increased substantially over the last year. "There were 300,000 unique samples in 2007, and the number rose to 2 million in 2008," Shahani said.

Hence, the challenge organizations today face is to deploy uncompromising level of security at a reasonable price. Shahani believes software-as-a-service (SaaS) could emerge as a delivery model for security applications in future.

Kaustubh Phanse, wireless architect at Airtight Networks, noted that unsecured wireless networks also pose a significant security threat. In a recent survey conducted in South Mumbai, Airtight Networks found that 78 percent of 637 detected Wi-Fi access points, were left unsecured.

Citing the US$45.6 million credit fraud against retail giant TJX as an example, Phanse said: "Wi-Fi networks are as easy to operate as a toaster [and] hacking has become a child's play.

"It's very important to secure wireless networks," he added. Airtight Network offers a range of wireless security services, including a SaaS version of its Wi-Fi offering.

Swati Prasad is a freelance IT writer based in India.

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