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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Free broadband, rent-free landlines likely: Maran

April 26, 2007 15:49 IST

President A P J Abdul Kalam, in his address to a joint sitting of Parliament on February 23, had said that 2007 would be the year of broadband. India's Telecom and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran wants to take that a little further: he wants broadband for the country to be entirely free, soon.

In an interaction with the press, Maran said that free broadband service in India could soon become a reality. He also said that zero-rental landline phones too might soon see the light of day.

When asked about the time it would take to bring his dream to fruition, he said, "I still have two more years."

"Broadband is a priority area for us," he said. "We have set a target of 9 million broadband connections this year, out of which BSNL and MTNL will do 7 million, while the remaining will be done by the private operators."

He said that bandwidth costs too are likely to see a drastic reduction shortly with BSNL and MTNL planning to host web servers within the country by the middle of this year.

Maran said these PSUs would set up web servers, which will enable the internet traffic to be diverted within India instead of being routed out of the country. This will reduce bandwidth costs significantly, he said, adding that Internet access charges would also come down.

TRAI has already sent its recommendations on National Internet Exchange of India to the Telecom Ministry. The purpose of NIXI was to ensure that internet traffic be routed within India.

With the target of 250 million phones looking achievable ahead of this year's December deadline, the government is planning to have 500 million connections by 2010, besides 9 million broadband lines by 2007-end.

He said although telecom penetration is happening in urban areas, the picture in rural areas is bad and out of the targeted 500 million phones by 2010, he wants one-fifth of it or 100 million phones to be in rural areas.

Maran said by the end of this year, rural telecom connections could touch 50 million and and the remaining 50 million over the next two years. To make this possible, 8,000 towers would come up under the infrastructure sharing programme and by 2009-10, he said another 10,000 towers would be in these areas to support the rural telecom connections.

As of now there are 2.7 million broadband connections in the country, he said, adding that from next month government will start massive roll out campaign for this target.

The minister said demand for BSNL and MTNL's broadband services was overwhelming and to the extent that the two PSU companies were unable to meet it. At present, BSNL is present in 800 cities, where it offers broadband services.