Focus on rural telecom: Maran

By : |May 2, 2005 0

NEW DELHI: In order to bridge the digital divide, Minister of Communications & IT Dayanidhi Maran has urged private operators to focus on the rural telecom market. He added that currently BSNL is the only operator targeting this divide but the private sector should also show concern. He was speaking at a seminar on “Sharing of Experience — DoT and British Telecom (BT)”, hosted by theDepartment of Telecom (DoT).

Stating that India has already crossed the 100 million-telephone subscriber mark and the vision is to have 250 million telephones and a tele-density of 22 percent in 2007. Maran added that broadband held tremendous potential in the country. In pursuance to the Broadband Policy announced in October 2004, it is expected that the number of broadband subscribers would reach 20 million by 2010 and the Internet subscriber base would touch 40 million by 2010.

Speaking on the occasion, Department of Telecom member B Sivaramakrishnan said that the rapid growth in telecom infrastructure has resulted in economic and social development. He stated that a major part of the GDP is contributed by the telecom sector and that a Rs one investment in telecom increases GDP by Rs four.

Liberalization of telecom policies has fueled a telecom revolution bringing digital divide in its wake. According to him, affordability is the key to bridging this divide and factors like wireless technology, Internet and broadband penetration can help in bridging the digital divide.

According to President of BT Global Services Allen Ma, sharing of experiences and mistakes would help in making better decisions. Like BSNL, BT was also an incumbent telecom operator in UK till it was corporatized and privatized in 1984. According to him, a proactive regulator and a level playing field is good for the incumbent telecom operator.

Ma also informed that BT has adopted a network strategy for meeting the demands of consumers and has decided to shut down PSTN over the next four years and switch to the 21st Century Network (21 CN). BT has committed an investment of $19 billion for this initiative and is expecting $2.6 billion in cost savings, which is expected to further increase BT’s profit.

Ma also informed that BT is very bullish about India and is planning to invest in managed network services here. It has also moved its Sydney customer service center to Pune. Out of 20,000 customer service executives of BT, 2,000 are employed in India.

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