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Economic Survey terms broadband as 'next frontier'

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NEW DELHI: Those technologies like broadband and DTH are important for India can be gauged from the fact they find references in the Economic Survey and the presidents address to a join session of Parliament today.

Along with liberal doses of mention of the telecom sector, countrys annual performance report card Economic Survey termed the emerging service of broadband as the "next frontier."

"India lags behind the world to a considerable extent in the field of broadband telecom. The new policy encourages creation of growth of infrastructure through various technologies. This may have a bigger impact on the economy as compared to the growth in ordinary voice telephony," the Survey, tabled today in Parliament, stated.

"The services have been launched recently and with the increase in volume and competition, the cost of these services are likely to decrease. Bandwidth will become cheaper to the extent the domestic traffic is switched within the country and servers accessed by Indian users are located within the country", the survey said.

The policy aims at three million broadband subscribers

and six million Internet subscribers by 2005-end.

The Survey also called for a fresh policy on spectrum with a limited role of the government on the utilisation.

"An important area requiring a fresh policy impetus is that of reducing the extent to which a state-led planning approach is used in the utilisation of the spectrum," it said.

The Survey, which was optimistic on the telecom sector exhorted the government to maintain pro-competitive policy, while making the environment conducive for new players to make forays.It also pushes for lower tariffs to increase tele-density.

Heaping praise on the development made in the infrastructure sector, especially telecom, the Survey said, "The most striking success is visible in telecom.

However, the Survey was critical of the expansion of the tele-density despite the fact that it has grown. Pointing out that India continues to lag behind countries like brazil and china where the tele-density is more than 40 per cent, the Survey suggested that in order to catch up there was a need to maintain vigorous pro-competitive efforts in terms of public policy."

The broadcast and telecom regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also came in for some support from the Survey that wanted a bigger and stronger regulator to facilitate pro-competitive policies. The Survey said, The policy initiatives taken in the telecom sector recently address some of these issues and looking forward, the sector would feature lively competition among private firms."

The Survey also took note of the fact that foreign direct investment (FDI) the telecom sector is the second largest after power and oil refineries ---But the survey was critical of the falling market share of he public sector undertaking like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd,their growth in rapidly rising mobile telephony segment, notwithstanding.

"Over the recent period, PSU operators BSNL and MTNL have lost market share in fixed telephony from 98.65 per cent to 91.39 per cent. In the past two years, PSUs have actually seen a decline in the number of fixed lines, while such lines have grown in the private sector", the Survey said.

PRESIDENT ON DTH AND EDUCATION

Addressing the Parliament , heralding the convening of the Budget session of Parliament, president APJ Kalam said that India has been a knowledge-based civilization for millennia and yet remains a country with an unacceptably high rate of illiteracy.

Pointing out that modern technologies would help in this aspect, the president said, The launch of EDUSAT, an educational satellite, and of Doordarshans Direct-To-Home (DTH) television facility will enable us to use modern technology in spreading literacy.

"Today our best and brightest are at the forefront of the global knowledge economy and yet many of our schools and colleges are unable to meet the aspirations of all those who seek the light of knowledge.This must change. India needs a new knowledge revolution, a new wave of investment in education at all levels of the knowledge pyramid, from elementary schools in villages to world-class research institutions. My Government will give priority to issues of both access and excellence in education," he said.

Kalam also dwelt on he telecom sector by stating the government plans to increase Indias tele-density from a lowly 8.4 per cent today to more than 20 per cent by 2008.

The priority will be to provide both voice and data transmission connectivity in rural areas. The broadband policy announced recently would enhance Internet connectivity with increased speed. This, in turn, would help our rural areas to take advantage of the benefits of e-governance, e-education and e-health. The digital divide between rural and urban areas must be bridged expeditiously, since it is possible for us to leapfrog into next generation information technology,Kalam said.

 

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