India bets on 3G mobiles, lower tariffs
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India bets on 3G mobiles, lower tariffs

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India will bet on mobile phones — and not low cost PCs — to take connectivity to 70 percent of the people who live in rural areas, the government said.

Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran said at the ongoing 3GSM conference in Barcelona, ‘‘When it comes to bridging the digital divide between rich and poor, the mobile phone, not the personal computer, has the most potential.’’

In a speech that invited global telecom players to invest in Indian telecom, Maran said telecom is a key infrastructure sector, within which rural connectivity is the ‘‘highest priority’’ item.

He said the mobile-connectivity focus is backed by estimates, which say that doubling mobile penetration from 8 percent will lead to 10 percent increase in economic and social output.

He said that India’s telecom growth is ‘‘fairly modest’’ despite adding 5 million subscribers over the last two months.

‘‘I believe that if we reach services to rural consumers, we have the potential to grow at 6, 7 or even 8 million subscribers per month,’’ Maran said.

He said the policy is to remain technology neutral and in line with international practice, and promised that fresh revenue streams like 3G will open up soon.

‘‘India is also looking forward to an early introduction of 3G services...it will be the platform on which mobile broadband can be delivered economically and efficiently. I expect that by the end of this fiscal we will have a clear 3G policy,’’ Maran said.

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