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February 10, 1999
The government plans to legalise Internet telephony as monitoring the use of this technology cannot be a solution, Minister of State for Communications Tapan Sikdar said on Thursday.
"Whether we legalise Internet telephony or not there will be many unscrupulous operators using the system and cheating the exchequer. Policing cannot be the solution here. Sooner or later, we have to legalise Internet telephony'', Sikdar said.
He said the government would act fast on the Group on Telephones' recommendation on Internet telephony.
Addressing the Third Telecom Summit, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Manufacturers Association for Information Technology, Sikdar suggested a national level corporation, on the lines of the Rural Electification Corporation, to finance rural and remote telephony.
He said the government was exploring ways to continue to boost telephone penetration and to expand computer and Internet connectivity.
From the present 2.5 per cent telephone penetration, the government aims to reach 15 per cent of the population by 2010. In the case of the rural areas, teledensity would be raised to four by 2010 from the current 0.4, he said. In this endeavour, Sikdar said, the private sector has to join hands with the government and make the required investments.
In a bid to increase computer penetration, the minister said community access centres would be critical and would serve a base for telematic services like teletraining, tele-mixing and tele-working.
Yoshio Utsumi, secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union, gave a three-point agenda for India: Increase competition by involving the private sector in a big way; have an independent regulator and use the latest technology.
"You have to strike a right balance between these points so that latest technology can be used without wasting the investment in earlier technology," he said.
Shyamal Ghosh who took over as telecom secretary three days ago, said India cannot afford to be late in reaping the benefits of the ongoing IT revolution.
He said that telecom services could be accessed in the remote areas, using the infrastructure of the power grid and the railways.
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