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Telecom operators may get additional spectrum

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Future policies to reflect convergence, says Prime Minister

Bandwidth challenges
Penetration to rural areas
India as hub for telecom software and hardware
Modernising and expanding educational institutions

EDUCATION FIRST: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, with the Chairman and Group MD, Bharti Enterprises, Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal (left), and the Director, IIT Delhi, Prof Surendra Prasad, at the inauguration of Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology and Management at the IIT Delhi campus on Monday. — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , March 20

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today said the Government is working towards releasing additional spectrum for the use of commercial telecom operators.

Speaking at the inaugural function of Bharti School of Telecommunications and Technology at Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, Dr Singh said, "One of the issues that we are presently looking at is the question of spectrum allocation and the challenge of convergence. We are working steadily towards addressing the issue of releasing additional spectrum from the Government use for the use of commercial telecom operators so that growth of this dynamic sector is not constrained by the shortage of this vital resource."

The Prime Minister also said the Government is taking note of challenges due to convergence. "I recognise the need to take a forward-looking approach, based on an appreciation of changing technologies. I also recognise the fact that convergence has its own logic and Government policy must be mindful of ground realities. No policy can be effective if it is not in step with market and technological realities," Dr Singh said.

Rural reach

While appreciating the contribution made by a rapidly growing telecom to the over all economy, Dr Singh said it was essential to reach the benefits of technology to the rural India. "We must note that while we have achieved impressive growth in this sector overall, the penetration in rural areas is still quite low with a tele-density of less than 2 per 1,000. Most of the growth in the past has been from urban areas. We need to look at approaches, which would enhance the teledensity in rural areas to 10 or more if we have to have 250 million subscribers by the end of next year," the Prime Minsiter said.

Development hub

Dr Singh also said that the Government was committed to the development of India as hub for telecom software and hardware.

"The rapid growth of the telecom industry has also increased the demand for manpower. So far, India has lagged behind other industrialised economies in Asia both on the hardware side and on the software side in telecom technology. Our Government is committed to the development of both these aspects of the telecom sector."

On education in the country, he said that unlike in the United States and Europe, not much is being done to fund tertiary education and research through charities and trusts.

"Our government has effected a steep increase in financial allocations for education at all levels. However, the priority for government will continue to be the primary and secondary levels.

"I expect the private sector to play a larger role at the tertiary level, especially in technical education," he said.

Dr Singh said the Government constituted the National Knowledge Commission to seek ideas on how we can modernise and expand our educational institutions and make them world class.

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