In a significant announcement, Mr Pramod Mahajan, the minister of Information and Technology announced that the final draft of the Convergence Bill will be placed on the web for public comments by December 25.
The new Act will have uniform laws regarding the delivery system of voice, picture, digital and other forms of data through the medium of telecommunications. The bill is expected to lead to the repeal of a large number of legislations such as the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885; Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933; Telegraph Wire Unlawful Possession Act, 1950; Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
One of the major developments coming out of this Bill is the legalisation of Net Telephony which has been a long awaited demand of the Cyber Community in India.
Along with this development several ISPs have announced their broadband initiatives.Satyam Infoway Ltd (Sify) is planning to commercially launch its broadband on demand services by mid-January 2001, using CorDECT (digitally enhanced cordless telecommunication) technology for high-speed data transmission in the last loop. CorDECT technology has been developed by Prof Ashok Jhunjunwalla and his team at Electrical & Electronics department of IIT, Chennai, in collaboration with Chennai-based Midas Technologies Pvt Ltd.
The Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti group is also planning to roll out its broadband services in key cities by March next year.
These broad band services will compliment the Dishnet DSL and Cable Internet services that are already available in select cities.
By Next March therefore the Internet scene in India would look very diferent with "Always Connect" "Broad Band" connectivity which can be used for multimedia reich content delivery and Voice carriage.
While E-Commerce will get a boost in different directions on account of these developments, the relevance and impact of Cyber Laws will also increase.
Get ready for the intense action.
In the meantime the Assocham expert committee on telecom, headed by Mr PK Sandell, in an open letter to the Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, last week made a case for area-specific licence system as also a technology-neutral converged licence. The letter highlighted the concerns of the telecom industry including high licence fees, high connectivity charges, steep user charges among others. It also sought a freeze on the release of fresh licences based on the segmentation of the service sector pending the Convergence Bill. The full contents of the letter are available in this report of Financial Express.