Allotment of 3G spectrum by January 2009

The Minister of Communications and IT, Thiru A. Raja has reiterated that the process of allotment of spectrum for 3G will be completed by January 2009. The Minister’s comments came during his speech at a curtain raiser ceremony for the forthcoming India telecom 2008 event in New Delhi today. Mr. Raja said, although the global economy is currently passing through the recession phase, its impact has been comparatively less on telecom sector. He said, India is well poised to surpass the target of 500 million connections well before the timeline of 2010.

The Minister however regretted that the telecom growth in rural areas has not kept pace with that in urban areas. Mr. Raja said, the government is working hard to correct this imbalance by shifting focus to small towns and rural areas, but it has still to go a long way in bridging the rural urban divide. He said, the government’s decision to allot licences to more operators was directed at raising competition, lowering tariffs and enhancing rural tele-density.

Mr. Raja disclosed that the government has set a target to provide broadband connectivity in all Gram Panchayats, Government Higher Secondary Schools and Public Health Centers by the end of year 2012. He hoped that the current provision of over 7000 mobile towers and future projects of over 11000 towers with USOF support will drastically change the mobile telephony scenario in rural India.

India Telecom 2008, scheduled from 11-13 December, will mark India’s leading international conference and exhibition for the entire telecom system. The theme of India Telecom 2008 is “Connecting Rural India”. The mega event is being organised by the Department of Telecommunication in partnership with FICCI. It will have participation from policy makers, regulators, service providers, manufacturers, investors and content providers in the sector. The event will include conferences, seminars, interactive sessions, open houses, CEOs round tables besides show casing state-of-the-art technologies. India telecom 2007 last year had attracted participation from 22 countries with 170 exhibitors and over 14000 trade visitors.

Wishing success for India Telecom 2008, Mr. Raja said, it is the perfect platform to provide a glimpse of opportunities and potential of Indian market as well as to provide the exposure of new and emerging technologies and solutions to Indian service providers and manufactures.

In his keynote address, the Minister of State for Communications and IT, Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia remarked that connecting rural India is the next biggest opportunity before the Telecom sector. He called upon the industry to play a catalytic role in taking the telecom revolution to rural and remote areas. The Minister asked for special emphasis on manufacturing and R&D and innovative business models to achieve the main objective of higher rural tele-density.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr. Siddhartha Behura, Secretary, Department of telecommunications, Mr. Ranjan Bharti Mittal, Vice-President, FICCI and Dr. Amit Mitra, Secretary General, FICCI.

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