Expressing confidence that the months of tough challenges faced by the Indian telecom sector are coming to an end, Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that the government has taken steps to ensure availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner.
Addressing a session of India Telecom 2012, Dr. Singh said: "As you all know, this sector has had to face some tough challenges in the past months. However, I believe that under the distinguished leadership of Kapil Sibal, the period of difficulties is now coming to an end. During the last one year, our government has taken a number of forward looking initiatives in the telecom sector. We have announced the New Telecom Policy 2012."
"We have attempted to ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner through market-related processes I am confident that the futuristic policy regime that we are now putting in place will address, and address effectively, the concerns that have been worrying investors and will provide a new impetus to the growth of telecommunication industry in our country," he added.
Highlighting that urban India has today reached a tele-density of 169 per cent compared to tele-density of only 41 per cent in rural India, Dr. Singh said: "The bulk of 59 per cent people who do not use phones in rural areas are perhaps from the socially and economically backward sections of our society."
"We must address this rural-urban divide if we have to achieve our goal of socially inclusive growth. Today, network coverage is there in most parts of our country and the bulk of the population is already covered. It is possible that there are economic or other barriers preventing the spread of telephone usage," he added.
Dr. Singh further urged the industry, which has shown great innovation in the telecom sector, to come up with strategies to expand teledensity in rural areas.
"I also urge the Department of Telecommunications to think big and think creatively to see how the resources available to it, either through the USO Fund or otherwise, are better used to achieve this purpose," he said.
"We cannot and we should not have an India where lack of a phone is a hindrance to inclusive growth. The New Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 70 percent rural penetration by 2017 and 100 percent by 2020. We should all work together to achieve these targets and in fact do better than what we have promised," he added.
Highlighting the availability of broadband services, Dr. Singh said: Broadband improves the lives of people by providing affordable access to information and knowledge.
"Many Information and Communication Technology applications such as e-commerce, e-banking, e-governance, e-education and telemedicine require high speed Internet connectivity. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between an increase in broadband connectivity and growth in a country's GDP," he added. (ANI)