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December 8, 1999
The big draw
What does it take to get the business community excited these day? Try the Internet. Better still, try e-commerce.
Event managers and exhibition organiser clearly know their buzzwords. Which is why, in the last three months, we have had three infotech exhibitions -- first, India Internet World and now two events simultaneously -- Convergence India 1999 and Comdex '99.
The former has definitely takes the wind of Comdex's sails -- both in terms of organisation and of visitors and delegates. Convergence India is aimed at considering the possibilities latent in bringing together infotech, broadcasting, banking, finance and -- without exaggeration, this -- every other thing beneath the sun.
But the big draw at Convergence India was Vinton G Cerf, who gave the digital glitterati in India an insight into the Web as of today and the possibilities hereafter. Tapan Sikdar, minister for communication, who inaugurated the conference said, "Integration of telephony, data and video services into a unified network has been a topic of intense study and discussion by systems planners in this decade.
"Technology enables movement across previously rigid barriers. This creates a totally different business and technological paradigm." He was right, of course. But most in his audience had got tired of saying much the same thing at other fora.
The minister also announced that Doordarshan would start digital transmission from next year onwards and would digitalize all regional channels.
The event has attendance from major names from the digital video broadcasting such as DVB Switzerland, Digital TV Group, Great Britain, ITIS France, Enron Communications, Lockheed Martin Communication etc.
The exhibition showcased broadcasters from across the world; many who have already started test-marketing in India. TV5, the French channel, for example, will start showing in India with English subtitles.
The inaugural session with Vinton Cerf had the entire business community agog. And Cerf reassured them, saying that other than some trouble with the electric supply, he found the Indian scenario 'extremely exciting'. He came down to the audience to answer questions.
VSNL's acting MD, Amitabh Kumar, who shared the dais with Cerf, said that digital technologies were growing at an exponential rate and that the 56 million Internet servers in the world could, by 2003, exceed 300 million. The number of users would far exceed the one billion telephone subscribers by then, he said.
"Telecom, information technology, broadcasting, computer networking, data warehousing, banking and media have reaped the benefits of convergence. As the new millennium approaches and companies redefine their businesses, boundaries between traditional products and markets will blur further. This phenomenon of convergence will break down geographical and ideological barriers."
And on that messianic note, Convergence India opened....
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