Broadband is the next frontier

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Our Bureau

New Delhi, Feb. 27

The Economic Survey 2005-06 said that the telecom sector would need to address and harness the challenges being posed by the Internet and convergence. Even as the Survey said that the government and telecom players are doing well registering a five-fold increase in phone penetration in last six years riding on steep tariff cuts, it said the present growth was not enough to match the huge potential.

"Although India's 125 million strong telephone network including mobile phones is one of the largest in the world, the telephone penetration rate continues to be low at about 11.32 per hundred population. The country offers vast avenues for growth," the Survey pointed out.

Terming broadband as the next frontier in telecom, the Survey said that the growth in subscriber base would need to increase substantially to look comparable with other Asian countries. "Ability to emulate the success of many other Asian countries in the broadband area will have major implications for smoothing intra-India commerce and industry, knowledge flow into India, e-governance, greater integration into the world economy," the Survey said.

Acknowledging the importance of a technology neutral policy for spectrum allocation, the Survey said that efforts were being made to introduce newly emerging radio communication technologies without unduly constraining the other existing operations.

The Survey has also expressed concern at the falling market share of the PSUs BSNL and MTNL in fixed telephony segment. "The two PSUs have been losing their market share in fixed telephony. From 98.65 per cent in 2001-02, their combined share declined to 85.31 per cent in December 2005. In the past two years, PSUs have actually seen a decline in the number of fixed lines while such lines have grown in the private sector," the Survey said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 28, 2006)
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