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TRAI To Seek Views On Shift To Internet Networks, To Phase Out Legacy Systems

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is set to seek views of stakeholders on making telecom companies switch over to a completely Internet-based network, according to a senior official. Additionally, this would mean phasing out the legacy TDM (time division multiplexing) networks.

The term of the current Chairman RS Sharma comes to an end Thursday and hence the consultation paper is likely to be issued either today or tomorrow.

“We are asking if there should be a sunset clause for TDM networks or we could even leave it to the industry to retire the legacy networks over time. But overall, the authority is in favour of moving to Internet-based networks,” the official said.

It may be mentioned here that the proposed IP-based network is not to be confused with Internet telephony which is a different technology altogether. Internet telephony does not operate on spectrum unlike IP-based system which still needs those frequencies.  Internet telephony is public system whereas IP-based communication is within the network of the operator.

TDM is a method of putting multiple data streams in a single signal by separating the signal into many parts, each having a short duration. Each signal appears on the line only a fraction of time in an alternating pattern and is reassembled at the receiving end based on the timing.

In a TDM network, voice is carried as a wave and is prone to disturbance.

An official with a telecom company said inclusion of a sunset clause would be unfair to mobile companies as they have invested billions of rupees in the existing legacy systems and it makes no sense to give up on them for no apparent great reason. TRAI should not be telling companies the choice of systems and networks they should adopt, he said.

Internet-based networks are the latest in technology where voice, like data, travels in a packet and is not prone to breakdowns.

IP-based networks use spectrum far more efficiently compared to a TDM network as a packet (particularly a voice packet) needs very little bandwidth for transmission. IP-based systems require less maintenance and hence fewer people to manage, thus leading to cost reduction for telecom companies.

Reliance Jio Infocomm is the only Indian mobile company that has an all IP-based network. Others are still in the process of laying IP networks and may take years to completely switch over to it. – Money Control

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