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Kalam calls for ethical use of telecom tools

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NEW DELHI: President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam stressed the need to assess and debate issues relating to invasion of privacy while inaugurating "India Telecom 2006" here yesterday.

"Telecom technologies are capable of locating the position of a cell phone, its utilisation pattern, and the particulars of the contactees, leaving the individual open to avoidable exposure and exploitation by motivated agencies," he said.

Thus, ethics for utilisation of telecom tools and technologies also need to be evolved, so that individual privacy is not intruded upon, he asserted.

Although some restrictions are in place for unsolicited telephone calls, there is a need for a more effective control mechanism. President Kalam said this in his address after inaugurating "India Telecom 2006 Exhibition and Conference" - held at the Pragati Maidan in the presence of Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

The President said that connectivity is key to the transformation of a billion people into members of knowledge society. He said that this meant connecting 600,000 villages and bringing their 700 million people to the 300 million people living in urban areas.

Speaking on PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) the President said that for providing knowledge connectivity, Village Knowledge Centres (VKCs) would act as frontline delivery systems.

Establishing VKCs in the panchayats would empower villagers with the knowledge and help act as local centres for knowledge connectivity within the overall framework of PURA, Kalam said.

The service data have to come from various connected institutions which provide the service to the people on a timely basis periodically. But the transformation of data into user-friendly information on a regularly updated basis is the real challenge, Kalam said.

The main focus of the VKCs should be to empower the youth to undertake development tasks in the villages and establish rural enterprises, which would provide large-scale rural employment.

Therefore, it is essential to skill-enable and knowledge-enable the village youth through the industry, banking as well as academic and marketing institutions. VKCs should act as facilitators, he stressed.

The President appreciated the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology for its efforts in establishing 100,000 Common Services Centres, which will become part of PURA knowledge connectivity.

Maran, in his keynote address, said that in order to achieve growth with equity and sustainability, it is necessary to take technology to the masses. This aspiration had been visualised by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi way back in 1985, he held, adding that the late leader had laid the foundation for providing one PCO in every village.

The present government's decision of providing support from USO Fund for mobile telephony as well as broadband services is going to open up the vast untapped market in rural areas of the country.

"In fact, we are christening 2007 as the 'Year of Broadband' in India," Maran said, adding that presently the country's broadband penetration is quite modest, at about three million connections.

With the USO scheme for coverage of rural areas and intense coverage through WiMAX, the DoT is expected to start adding more than one million broadband connections per month before the end of year 2007, he revealed.

For this, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has come out with an aggressive plan for providing five million broadband connections in the year 2007 itself, with a minimum download speed of 2 mbps.

This, he hoped, would be a real challenge for private operators too, "either to match it or beat it".

The entry of Nokia into the manufacturing space, followed by Flextronics, Motorola and a whole lot of others, has set up the platform for positioning India as a global hub for telecom manufacturing. He said there were expectations of fresh commitment of about $2 billion in telecom manufacturing itself in the next year or so.

"This would be further enhanced to $20 billion by the year 2010, with more jobs, contribution to GDP, revenue, etc.," he said.

N Srinivasan, vice president, FICCI, in his welcome address said: "Recognising the key role that telecom plays in the growth of the economy, FICCI has joined hands with Ministry of Communications and IT to launch this annual event. The first event has seen very good response from all leading telecom players. We hope to make it a flagship event of the telecom sector in India in coming years."

He said that the Indian telecom industry was on a high growth trajectory, with over 183 million mobile subscribers in the country today.

Srinivasan added, "I hope this event, with the expertise of national and international speakers, along with inputs from all the stakeholders with their vast and rich knowledge domain, will bring out useful recommendations for policymakers."

The international exhibition will showcase products and technologies from over one hundred companies, both domestic and international. The Indian telecom industry is being represented by companies like Bharti Airtel Limited, BSNL, C-DOT, Hutchison Essar Mobile Services Ltd, COAI, Qualcomm India Pvt Ltd. Reliance Communication Ltd. etc.

Among the international participants there are companies from Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Italy, while Taiwan, Korea and US .companies will be seen in independent pavilions.

India Telecom 2006 has been organised by the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications and IT in association with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Telecom Equipment Manufactures' Association (TEMA).

The main sponsors are BSNL, Nokia, Ericsson, Reliance Communications and ZTE. MTNL is the co-sponsor, while the Associate Sponsors are Airtel, Idea Cellular, Tata Indicom, Qualcomm and UT Starcomm.

Ernst & Young are the Knowledge partners.

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