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August 13, 1997


Department sores

Software exports suffer as DoE and DoT play touché

The Telecom Commission has failed to take a decision on the future of software exports through the 'Software Technology Parks of India' scheme because of differences between the Department of Electronics and the Department of Telecom.

The commission had to take a decision on giving a green-channel facility for the prioritisation of high-speed datacom for the STPs.

The matter was taken up at a recent meeting but the decision was left to be sorted out between DoT chief A V Gokak and DoE Secretary Shyamal Ghosh. Incidentally, Gokak is also the chairman of the Telecom Commission by the virtue of his office at DoT.

The differences are mainly about the role the DoE is to play once the new Internet policy comes into force. The DoE wants STPs to continue providing high-speed datacom services to software exporters as a single-window one-step solution.

The DoE wants that it be allowed, along with VSNL, to provide leased lines to ISPs. Based on a note prepared by the DoE, Ghosh explains the underlying philosophy of the proposal to provide one-window service to STPs.

DoT sources say that during the discussions it was noted that there were certain areas where the departments failed to reach a consensus. It was later agreed that facilitating of software exports should be the focus of endeavours in this direction in the wake of international competition.

In modifying the policy formulations, the primary objective should be to remove all obstacles. Sources said that since differences persisted after a series of discussions, it was decided the DoE and DoT bosses would jointly determine the areas requiring modifications.

It was further decided that any issue that might still remain unresolved would be brought before the full Telecom Commission.

The DoE had set up the Software Technology Parks of India for providing infrastructural datacom facilities to exporters through the single-window mechanism. The Internet services are an integral part of the infrastructure required by the software exporting community. STPI, therefore, started offering these services from its centres at Bangalore, NOIDA, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Bhubaneswar, Pune and Gandhinagar.

This is being offered so far through a network called Softnet STPI which has six earth stations which operate as international gateways for providing datacom infrastructure and other services including Internet.

Now, with the finalisation of the new Internet policy, DoT wants the DoE to surrender its services as in the case of VSNL.

DoE is resisting this. The DoE wants that the STPI should also be allowed to provide international leased lines and for international Internet connectivity to Internet service operators on the lines of VSNL.

This, it says, will supplement government efforts in this direction. It was further argued that the STPI will have special dispensation for operating Internet service to software exporters.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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