December 2006

News Review – Business

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Dr.Shakeel Ahmad,Union Minister of State for Telecommunications and Information Technology, while inaugurating the 12th International Telecom Summit organised jointly by ASSOCHAM and BEACON recently at New Delhi, said that the government would be taking steps to enhance the spectrum availability by releasing the spectrum from the existing users mostly security agencies, thereby opening up the gateway for rolling out 3G services and enhancing additional 8200 million mobile connections. “The government proposes to pass the Bill in the current session for providing assistance to mobile service operators from the USO Fund and enhance the spectrum availability to facilitate 3G services to have additional 8200 million mobile connections to expand mobile base in the rural areas. The government was committed to achieve the target of 250 million phones by 2007 and 500 million by 2010,” Dr. Ahmad declared.

Acknowledging that the spectrum availability is crucial for the growth of the wireless services in every nook and corner of the country, Dr. Ahmad reiterated the need to enhance investment and growth in the telecom sector. As such, 100% FDI is permitted to the telecom manufacturing sector and in the telecom services sector. The Minister further said that broadband is the cornerstone in the efforts to usher in information society in India. Dr. Ahmad said, “We launched broadband services in January 2005 to over 200 towns in one year. By now over 300 towns have been covered with more than 1.5 million connections. The tariff for these services has been brought down consistently. The government has set a target of 20 million broadband subscribers by the end of 2010 as envisaged in the broadband policy and efforts were on to prioritise provision of broadband to schools and colleges.”

Anil K. Agarwal, ASSOCHAM President, speaking on the occasion stressed that the need of the hour is that the domestic telecom manufacturing be positioned in a manner such that it can effectively address telecom requirements of emerging markets in its neighbours like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. He also said that the telecom equipment manufacturing would need a special sectoral treatment rather than being governed by general policy framework in view of special characteristics of telecom and the WTO stipulations for elimination of duties on this segment. Agarwal suggested, “The objectives of the new strategy to support and encourage telecom equipment manufacturing should have a slew of measures that can sustain the domestic telecom subscribers demand and establish a critical size of the Indian telecom hardware manufacturing sector, besides aiming to make Indian telecom manufacturing globally competitive.”

Defence Ministry launches Raksha Bhoomi software
M. M. Pallam Raju, Union Minister of State for Defence, recently launched “Raksha Bhoomi” software, which is aimed at computerising land records comprising vast tracts of land in the country measuring about 17 lakh acres falling under Defence Ministry's Directorate General of Defence Estates. Raju said that though digitising of defence land records remains a highly specialised and complex task, this would give a fillip to e-Governance upon completion. “The Defence Estate officials should make optimum use of the Raksha Bhoomi software to protect the precious Defence land and prevent encroachments. There are instances of encroachment on Defence lands that have come up to the notice of the Defence Ministry. The software would facilitate in solving these cases,” the Minister said. The entire digitisation of the land records would be done in two phases at a total cost of INR20.52mn (US$ 459,982).

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