Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Aug 18, 2002
Info-Tech - Telecommunications
Curbs on mobile services, WLL in Kashmir, N-E off
GUWAHATI, Aug. 17
IN a bid to connect the rife-ridden States of North-East and Jammu & Kashmir, the Government today announced the removal of restrictions on expansion of mobile services and use of wireless in local loop (WLL) technology in these States.
Dedicating the 487 odd community information centres (CIC) in the North-Eastern States, the Communications Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said the decision to remove the ban on expansion of cellular services and limited mobility telephone services was taken at the last meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
The Government had imposed restrictions on expansion of these services in N-E and J&K due to militancy and insurgency problems of the State.
He also said private operators such as Reliance (the only company to have commenced operations) and two others would be able to expand their businesses.
The Government-owned, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) would also provide mobile services in each district of N-E by next year.
Mr Mahajan said under the National Telecom Policy 1999, by December 2002, every village would have at least one VPT (village public telephone). "In the last 10 months, one lakh VPTs have been set up. Only 50,000 villages have yet to be covered. I will ensure that both the private players and BSNL meet their VPT obligations,'' Mr Mahajan said.
However, N-E and J&K were not covered under this telecom policy. With the CCS lifiting the ban, BSNL is expected to speed up process and ensure the availability of VPTs in these States as well.
There are about 38,960 villages in N-E, of which 22,160 villages have VPT. "The remaining 16,800 villages do not have telephones due to security reasons. Since the CCS has lifted the ban on WLL, the Government has asked BSNL to put VPTs in the rest of the 16,000 villages,'' Mr Mahajan said.
Along with this, the Minister also unveiled the `mobile postman' scheme and said that the entire N-E region would be covered under the VPT scheme by August 15, 2003.
A pilot project covering 10,000 villages and having 2,000 post offices would be started on December 25. Through this scheme, the postmen would carry mobile phones to villages enabling villagers to remain connected.
LG would manufacture handsets with display screens which would display the bills. The postman would get a commission of 20 per cent and the Department of Posts five per cent of the revenues generated.
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