CommsIndia’97: Signaling The Emerging Communications Milieu

Held at a time when the communications industry is reassessing all that has passed under
the bridge since telecom was privatized in the country, CommsIndia’97 was not without some
explicit leads as to where the industry is heading.

CommsIndia was a cornucopia of exhibitors,
visitors, conference speakers, delegates, and professionals from over 30 countries. Held
during 9-11 December 1997, the event was inaugurated jointly by Justice PB Sawant,
Chairman, Press Council of India, and AV Gokak, Chairman, Telecom Commission.

The Carnival
Though the show got off on a damp note, with rains lashing the venue during the morning
hours of the first day, it picked up momentum very soon and the mood soon changed to that
of enthusiasm and business purpose. Though, this year, some big industry names were
conspicuous in their absence-Motorola, Nokia, and Tata Lucent being the notable ones.

If there was a flavor during the CommsIndia
this time, it was Mobile Satellite Services, with as many as four major consortiums
brandishing their corporate image in all glory and trying their best to create mindshare
among the predominantly industry crowd. Iridium, which is all set to start its services in
the later part of this year, even went to the extent of exhibiting some of the handsets to
be used. With a few of them looking like gizmos straight out of a science fiction movie.
Globalstar not to be beaten, occupied one of the biggest stalls in the hall. With Satphone
and ICO trying to match them, the battle for the skies has surely begun.

The ubiquitous, almost to the extent of
being the official, technology of the event was Wireless In Local Loop (WILL). The various
WILL standards present were CDMA-based, floated by Qualcomm, Hyundai, and DSC
Communications; D-AMPS-based, Ericsson and Tellabs; DECT-based, Alcatel, Ericsson,
Italtel, and Shyam Telecom; and PHS-based, Arraycom. Each exhibitor tried explained the
pros and cons of his solution with respect to others.

Equally testing was CommsIndia’97 for the
test and measurement companies. HP, Wandel & Goltermann, AIMIL, Fastech, Tektronix,
Subex, and Wavetek all were displaying their various products in the exhibition.
Transmission companies were present with equal might. Alcatel and Ericsson had crowds
converging to their stalls. Punwire and Shyam Telecom were the notables among the Indian
companies which stood out. The computer telephony segment was represented by Dialogic,
Voxtron, and SISL. Fujitsu and Mitel displayed their semiconductors for various
communication purposes.

The Convention
Spread across three days, the conference dealt with topics like privatization, networking
technologies, spectrum management, satellite technologies, Internet, and wireless. The
speakers included N Vittal, Chairman, Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB); RN
Agarwal, Wireless Advisor, Ministry Of Communications, GoI; Per Hjerppe, Director Internet
Business Group (Asia-Pacific), Digital; Anand Pillai, Country Manager, Bay Networks;
Graham Davey, Director, Government Relationships, Motorola India; and Virat Bhatia,
Director, AT&T India. Held in two tracks hand-in-hand, not all were sufficiently
packed with audience. Two of the topics, which raised dust and storm this time, were
spectrum management and Internet policy and operations.

All in all, CommsIndia’97 was "not
bad". The crowd was not lesser than expected, in spite of an unexpected downpour. And
a fair amount of companies, who were looking to build brand image, went back happy.
Equally, though, there were a number of companies who did not get what they were expecting
from the event-the ones who came with specific and immediate business purposes.

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