June 2008

Conference on ‘Last Mile Solutions for Sustainable and Inclusive ICT Connectivity’ 15 – 18 April 2008, Cochin, Kerala, India

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Last mile solutions

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) held the 2nd Connecting Rural Communities Asia Forum on 'Last Mile Solutions for Sustainable and Inclusive ICT Connectivity' between 15th – 18th April 2008 in Cochin, Kerala, India. Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India hosted this four-day event to identify the effectiveness of ICT tools in bridging the digital divide in rural India. This forum secured strong support from both the public and private sponsors. The first three days saw deliberations and presentations by various panelists and participants. The event concluded on 18th April 2008 with a workshop on 'Getting Ready for 3G' which was led by Nokia Siemens Networks and discussed migration strategies, spectrum issues, 3G applications and impact of 3G on rural development.

Participants included Ministers of Communications, Regulators, Heads of Universal Services Funds and private sector industry leaders, with Ericsson being the main platinum sponsors. Other key sponsors included:- Airtel, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, Microsoft, Government of Nagaland and Government of  Kerala. Important government officials including three ICT Ministers from Afghanistan, Brunei and Sri Lanka, professionals and non-government representatives participated in the conference. Senior ICT decision makers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Brunei, United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore, Oman, Tanzania, Finland, Sweden and Nigeria joined the conference to share their views and success stories.

USO and rural telecommunications

The first day was dedicated as a Special Focus Day  on Universal Access. The day started with a panel discussion on Universal Service Obligation for Rural Telecommunications and was chaired by  Bob H Lyazi, Fund Manager, Uganda  Communications Commission. Ajay Bhattacharya, Administrator, Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund, T V Ramachandran, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Gabriel Solomon, Senior Vice President, GSMA (GSM Association), Yogesh Kocchar, Head, e-Governance Unit, Tata Tele-Services were present on the occasion to discuss the issues related to USO Fund. Lyazi said that India is a leading example for mobile communications in the world and it is estimated that by 2010, India will have 500 million subscribers in terms of variety of wireless technologies. The conference saw the discussion over the 3As for providing rural connectivity

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