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Necessity not a luxury...
The taste of Indian economic liberalisation unfortunately has not reached to those that need them the most- the rural India. Telecommunications, an important quotient for rural development remains conspicuous by its absence in most of the villages in India.
The target of 250 million subscriber base by the end of 2007 set by the Ministery of Communication and Information Technology does not make any sense if rural tele-density is not given its due weightage. As such tele-density in rural India is just 2% as compare to 40% in urban India. Subscribers increased to approximately 175 million (Dec 2006) from 125 millions (Dec 2005). Interestingly, urban subscribers increased by 50 million whereas the increase was a mere 3 million in rural subscriptions. The reasons for private telecom operators feeling less attracted in rural India is obvious though - poor infrastructure, lower margins and negligible concessions. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) remains the only credible service provider, catering to one million rural connections. In fact the universal service obligation (USO) to fund telecom operators for infrastructural development in the rural region has not been successful as the demand for funds have exceeded the fund itself.
If the gap between India and Bharat is to be bridged, rural India’s integration with the rest of the country has to be re-emphasised. For that matter even if it takes the government to march beyond private sector.
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