Broadband India Forum (BIF) on Tuesday underlined the need to promote competition, innovation, and investment in the domain of submarine cable landing stations, as the industry body advocated for non-discriminatory and open access to all potential seekers of international connectivity.
The think tank has emphasised the need for creation of robust submarine cable systems connected to India as well as geo-diversity and augmentation of submarine cable landing infrastructure, according to a statement by BIF.
“Through its consultation paper on ‘Licensing Framework and Regulatory Mechanism for Submarine Cable Landing in India’ to the TRAI, BIF…has underscored the need to promote competition, innovation, and investment in the domain of submarine cable landing stations and provide equal, fair, non-discriminatory and open access to all potential seekers of international connectivity,” it said.
This will help satiate the demand for data, consumption of which is rising by the day.
The new framework proposed by BIF talks about the necessity of a new regulatory environment which delinks the deployment and ownership of the submarine cable networks from the submarine cable landing infrastructure through open access under a light-touch regulation.
BIF president TV Ramachandran described submarine cable and cable landing stations as critical elements to improve the digital communications infrastructure ecosystem, boost digitalisation and accomplish the dream of creation of a digital economy.
“It’s quintessential to create a conducive environment for the growth of submarine cable and cable landing stations to support requisite infrastructure development to push digital India mission,” Ramachandran said.
According to Ramachandran, an enabling regulation will play an instrumental role in promoting competition, encouraging innovation in the segment and fulfilling the data demand of every citizen.
“BIF in its response to the regulator has also suggested to open CLS facilities for new entrants and implement a regulatory framework with two broad categories of players,” it said explaining that one could be for those who will build and deploy submarine cable systems and CLSs, and another for those who would use the infrastructure to provide the public services.
Moreover, the think tank has requested for a review of the current regime in order to improve ease of doing business.
To promote investor sentiments, it has advocated the simplification of procedures and processes, reduction of turnaround time, implementation of lawful interceptions and monitoring standards, and flexibility to implement new technologies/models.
BIF further said that while Indian-owned undersea cable repair vessel may partially address some issues related to delays in undersea cable maintenance and reduce the dependency on foreign vessel providers, “this may not be entirely practical as of now and may lead to unnecessary increase in cost to deploy, operate and maintain the network, thereby impacting end consumer experience”.
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