PM asks telecom industry to focus on rural areas

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh today asked the Indian telecom industry and other stakeholders to come up together to deliberate on issues relating to a sector which is of critical importance to our economy and our country.


'The Indian telecom sector has seen phenomenal growth over the past decade or so. With around 96.5 crore telephone connections, India, today, is the second largest telecom market in the world as a whole. The telecom sector has also been the driver of Foreign Direct Investment and FII flows into our country. It has contributed in a major way to the dynamism of our economy,' said Dr Singh at the inaugural session of India telecom 2012 in New Delhi.

'During the last one year, our government has taken a number of forward looking initiatives in the telecom sector. We have announced the New Telecom Policy 2012. We have attempted to clarify the policy positions on a number of complex issues. We have attempted to ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner through market-related processes. I am confident that the futuristic policy regime that we are now putting in place will address, and address effectively, the concerns that have been worrying investors and will provide a new impetus to the growth of telecommunication industry in our country,” said Dr Singh.

Problem in rural areas: First issue


Putting emphasis on increasing teledensity in villages Dr Singh said that the penetration of basic telecom services in our rural economy is the main issue in the country. The exponential growth of the telecom sector has been primarily driven by growth in the use of telephones in urban areas. The full potential of telecommunications in enabling higher growth will not be realised until the use of telephones spreads much wider in the rural economy of India as well. While urban India has today reached a teledensity of 169 percent, the teledensity in rural India stands at only 41 percent. Not only this, the bulk of the 59 percent people who do not use phones in rural areas is perhaps from the socially and economically backward sections of our society.

I urge industry, which has shown great innovation in the telecom sector, to come up with strategies to expand teledensity in rural areas. I also urge the Department of Telecommunications to think big and think creatively to see how the resources available to it, either through the USO Fund or otherwise, are better used to achieve this purpose.We cannot and we should not have an India where lack of a phone is a hindrance to inclusive growth. 'The New Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 70 percent rural penetration by 2017 and 100 percent by 2020. We should all work together to achieve these targets and in fact do better than what we have promised,' said Dr Singh.

The second issue


Taking note of the dismal picture of India's current broadband penetartion he said that broadband improves the lives of people by providing affordable access to information and knowledge. Many information and communication technology applications such as e-commerce, e-banking, e-governance, e-education and telemedicine require high speed Internet connectivity. "Studies show that there is a direct correlation between an increase in broadband connectivity and growth in a country’s GDP,” the PM added.

NOFN provide great opportunity for rural people

'Our government has launched the National Optical Fiber Network project to provide broadband connectivity to all our Panchayats. I am confident that this unique project will usher a new era in telecommunications by establishing information highways across the whole length and breadth of our country, particularly in rural areas. I would urge all government departments and the private sector to work creatively to ensure that this infrastructure is efficiently used to make broadband services truly affordable and accessible,' said Dr Singh.

'We need to strengthen our domestic manufacturing capabilities across the entire value chain in telecom and electronics. The new telecom and electronics policies lay down the regime for enabling this to happen. Now it is for the captains of our industry, particularly in the private sector that they have to seize this unique initiative. As a major automobile buying country, we have developed a strong automotive sector,'said Dr Singh.