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25 Years of Teletext and the India Teletext Project

Photo Credit - Theo Priestly

A post in LinkedIn on 25 years of teletext reminded me of the implementation of the teletext project in India in the early 1990's . 

My first introduction to teletext was in the United Kingdom in 1990 where I learnt the finer points of horse racing in the teletext feed, it was interesting information and available with a click on the TV remote.
I returned to India in 1991 and was hired as a member of the OTCEI  (Over the Counter Exchange of India) team to build India's first national fully automated stock exchange  created on the lines of NASDAQ USA. 

We successfully  launched the exchange but needed a solution for  price dissemination to smaller cities.
The Satellite Antenna for teletext in Mumbai (LtoR)
Sudesh Puthran, author, Late R. Ravimohan, Sandeep Bagalkar & Karthik Shah

There was only one vendor for equity price dissemination those days, it was The Press Trust of India (PTI)  which provided the service to a limited number of cities in India along with news dissemination.   

We collaborated with National Informatics Center (NIC) who had a dynamic leader in  Dr. Seshagri Rao ( who was keen to make teletext services a reality. 

We build the solution on a two hop VSAT network, the first hop was from our data center in Mumbai to the NIC Data Center in Delhi, here the stock feed was converted by NIC into the teletext format and routed to Doordashan the only TV broadcaster in India. 
The second hop was from the NIC Data Center to the Doordarshan (the Government owned Television provider of India) from its television tower in Pithampura in Delhi from where it was broadcast nationwide.
This involved NIC, Doordarshan and  ECIL ( the only vendor for the teletext equipment in India, all three were Government of India entities.
We successfully demonstrated the teletext in a number of cities which included Nagpur and Hyderabad.
In a few quarters we moved from a dialup X.28 network to a shared X.25 network  provided by the Department of Telecommunication known as INET and we could provide the ticker tape on the traders screen with access to better software technology. 
Subsequently we  signed India's first agreement with Reuters to pay us for the national price dissemination. 
In a few years the ticker tape emerged on the Indian television introduced by private Television channels and the subsequent internet connectivity in India ensured the death of  teletext. 

The India Teletext project  was a pioneering project in 1993 way ahead of its time, just like the OTC Exchange which brought the then NASDAQ  President to India to sign an agreement with OTCEI in Mumbai.  

The OTCEI today is a blot in history,but lead the way for other exchanges to emulate which including a VSAT network and the proof that India could automate its trading.


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