The Jig Saw

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Rural areas are big business, Baijal tells telecom firms

Thursday Feb 3, 2005

"Telecom service providers have to stop seeing the rural areas as a non-viable area. The market in rural areas is two and a half times bigger than urban areas," said Baijal, citing the example of how companies that recognised this potential had benefited.

He urged Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to share its infrastructure with other operators on a commercial basis as no other service provider barring the state-owned company had the requisite fibre optic connectivity in rural areas.

BSNL has 30,000 exchanges in villages connected by fibre optics and is providing telecom services in 515,000 villages.

Baijal welcomed the Government's decision to increase the foreign investment cap in telecom service providers from 49 to 74 per cent. "This would help meet the large investments required to boost infrastructure," he said.

The telecom sector estimates a need of around Rs 1-1.5 trillion ($23-$34 billion) to match the growth in China and achieve the target of 200 million telephone connections.

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