All villages in India to have public telephone by 2009-10

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New Delhi, Sep 12 (UNI) All villages in India are expected to have public telephones by the end of next year, the government said today.

Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked state-owned telecom operator BSNL to start the work in 50,000 newly-identified villages. These 50,000 enclaves include new villages appearing in Census 2001, villages with population less than 100 and those left out from earlier schemes, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology said.

Once these new villages are covered with public telephony with subsidy support from DoT's universal service obligation (USO) fund, all villages in the country will have the facility by the end of next year, the ministry added.

Besides, the government is already working to provide the facility to 66,822 uncovered villages under Bharat Nirman programme.

Of these, 54,700 villages have already been covered and the remaining are likely to be covered by the current year-end.

The villages are being provided public telephones through digital satellite phone terminals, the Ministry said.

BSNL has already provided telephones to five and a half lakh villages across the country, the Ministry said, adding it has 11 million GSM connections in rural areas.

The company's GSM coverage has reached out to about 2,56,000 villages, over 43 per cent of the total in the country. The telecom operator covers 75 per cent of the villages through its WLL network, with boardband being brought to 30,500 villages.

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