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India ITS Conference concluded 24 Feb 2012

We took the description of this conference, Regional ITS [International Telecom Society] conference, seriously. I served on the program committee. Despite one visa casualty and one last minute cancellation, with five people attending, we had perhaps the largest organizational presence. But it was focused almost entirely on India and India’s many telecom problems. Of all the countries in South Asia, only Sri Lanka was represented. Our efforts to bring in a Bangladeshi were stymied by an obdurate visa procedure. The Thais and Indonesians present had come from Sweden. There were, of course, paper givers from Japan and Korea.

ITS has a new tagline “a meeting of minds among industry, government and academia.” Guess this kind of puts it in the same space as CPRsouth. The Minister of Telecom, Mr Kapil Sibal, the Secretary of DoT, Mr Chandrashekar though advertised, failed to show. I’d have been surprised had they come for such a small crowd. Sudharma Yoonaidharma from Thailand was also a no-show. But plenty of Indian telecom glitterati were present: TRAI Chair Dr Sarma, Mr Ravi Sankar, the man in charge of the USD 4.4 Billion USF and slated to head the National Optical Fiber Agency that is intended to mop up the money; Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala; Professor Abhay Karandikar; and COAI Director General Rajan Mathews. There are plenty of meetings of mind and otherwise among government and industry in New Delhi. Having the academics engaged was good, but there weren’t enough of them and not all of their research was actionable. And I guess it’s a difficult thing to get industry representatives away from the routine of public lobbying they are so accustomed to, even at an international research conference.

It was surprising that an event intended to showcase one of India’s great success stories was located in a decrepit, crumbling government hotel. Perhaps this was intended to remind us that not all of India works as well as the mobile industry. But in the end, small irritations such as having to pass through multiple security screens to eat lunch every day fade away when one has one useful conversation in a hallway with a colleague. There were plenty of these. So to me, the two days were well spent.

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