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Wednesday, Aug 28, 2002

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AP to upgrade PCOs to cyber dhabas

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IN A two-stage process to be completed by the end of this fiscal, the Andhra Pradesh Government has embarked on a project which will convert about 5000 public call offices (PCOs) to Internet dhabas and later upgrade them to serve as e-seva centres or integrated citizen service centres.

While over 1100-odd mandals across the State have already been networked and are now planned to have integrated services centres, the Government has charted out moves to reach out more citizen-centric services to villages across the State.

Towards this end, it has decided to take up 5000 out of 23,000 villages to network and provide citizen services.

The Principal Secretary, Information Technology and Communication, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Mr J. Satayanarayana, said the State Government had two days ago decided to upgrade at least 5,000 PCOs in the State, with one in each village to serve as Internet dhabas.

These centres will later be developed to serve as e-seva centres.

Following the recent changes in the telecom sector, public call offices (PCOs) across the country are pressured to match up their earlier revenues.

With their incomes dwindling, "We felt it would be ideal if we could help them boost their income through some value- addition. Towards this, we decided to take up 5,000 PCOs for upgradation before the end of this fiscal," he said at an awards function organised by BSNL here.

Mr Satyanarayana said that these Internet dhabas would be later upgraded to serve as citizen centres where people can visit and make their utility payments as also use them as community centres. "We have impressed upon BSNL to support this initiative and expect a favourable response. This project has the potential to bridge the digital divide by making IT more useful for the common man," he said.

"While the State has made rapid strides in technology adoption with a range of successful projects both completed and ongoing, it has still a long way to go. We are faced with a lot of challenges wherein the effort is to stream voice, data and video through a single interface at the cheapest possible rate," he said.

Some policy issues need to be addressed at the earliest at the national level.

The last mile issue continues to be a problem and the interconnect matters are yet to be addressed.

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