17th convergence India 2009 opens

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (ANI/Business Wire India): "In today's world - convergence is the keyword. All facets of communication have converged digitally into the mobile handset," said Siddhartha Behura, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, Govt of India, Chief Guest at the inauguration of the 17th Convergence India 2009, which commenced today in the nation's capital.

With wireless technologies like 3G and WiMAX allowing mobile access to voice, data and multimedia over converged networks, the Indian market is excited about the reach of new applications like tele-medicine, tele-education, mobile Internet and location based services.

Behura emphasized the role of communications technology in reducing the urban-rural digital divide. "Our main concern is to bridge the gap between urban and rural India," he remarked.

Voice services, data access, and video downloads are services taken for granted in India's urban markets while basic voice services in rural areas are hard to come by. And yet, with a tele-density of merely 14 per cent, rural India represents the next phase of growth for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

"The key areas of focus are affordability, accessibility and inclusion," said Subhendu Mohanty, Country Head and Senior Director Home and Networks Mobility Business, Motorola, at Convergence India's inaugural conference session.

According to Mohanty, convergence should take us down the path of inclusion where everyone has access to information and services like security, medical advice/health, financial services.

The government has a significant role to play as far as rural penetration is concerned, especially in terms of augmenting the existing infrastructure. Given India's geographical diversity, RN Prabhakar, Member-Technology, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that state governments should work out their own policies regarding telecom penetration in their respective states.

He also felt that the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) should be utilized effectively for expansion of mobile and broadband services in rural areas.

Transforming the TV from an entertainment medium to an information medium, and thereafter to a productivity medium enabling tele-medicine, tele-education etc, in a cost-effective manner, will go a long way towards connecting rural India. Television is a very powerful medium in a country like India where we have 100 million plus TV homes.

"Video will play a very important role in convergence. India will be at the forefront of developments in video communications because of the high level of TV penetration and lower-cost transmission to the end user as compared to global economies," claimed Vijay Yadav, Managing Director - South Asia, UTStarcom.

A global showcase featuring exhibits from 20 countries, the Convergence India exhibition brings cutting edge services and solutions conducive to the convergent technological scenario.

Among the exciting launches were Sai Infosystems Ltd's Video-Phone services in collaboration with BSNL. The wireless/wireline service will be launched initially across North and West India and would provide audio/video calls at rates even cheaper than the Re. 1 per minute landline rate. Affordability is the main concern in spreading communications services across the remote, rural and unconnected areas and video communications just might be the answer. (ANI)

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