India poised for telecom expansion, says RAJA

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New Delhi, Sept 24 : Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology A Raja today expressed concern about the low levels of rural teledensity despite impressive growth of the telecom sector and low tariffs.

Inaugurating the 14th India Telecommunications International Summit 2008 here, Raja said that vast stretches of India's rural population have little or no telecom penetration and there is a large rural-urban divide in connectivity.

"The government proposed to achieve rural teledensity of 25 per cent by means of 200 million rural connections by the end of the 11th Plan. So far, around 88 million phones have been provided in the rural areas with a teledensity of around 11 per cent," he added.

He said the efforts are being made under USO Fund to strengthen infrastructure for providing wireless phone services in rural and remote areas of the country.

"By the end of 2012, a total of 600 million connections have been envisaged, which would necessitate an estimated requirement for equipment worth USD 73 billion during next five years," he added.

He further said that the majority of the investment is expected to be realized through FDI, particularly in the area of mobile communication. Today, all major global telecom majors like Vodafone, Nokia, Elcoteq, Alcatel, LG, and Ericsson have their manufacturing bases in India.

"Following government's measures to promote broadband in the country, the broadband subscribers grew from a meager 0.18 million as in March 2005 to over four million, up to August 2008. It is also envisaged that internet and broad-band subscribers will increase to 40 million and 20 million, respectively, by 2010," he said.

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