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Indian telecom investments to top $20 bn in 5 yrs

December 27, 2002 19:01 IST

India's booming telecommunications industry is set to see investment in excess of $20 billion over the next five years, a senior government official said on Friday.

"I expect an investment of at least Rs 1,000 billion ($20.8 billion) over the next five years in the telecoms sector," N K Singh, member of the Planning Commission, told a bankers' conference in Bangalore.

India's Planning Commission sets long-term priorities in economic policy and government spending.

Singh told Reuters the figure was based on projections for fibre-optic network spending outlined in India's 10th Five-Year Plan, which started this year.

In the decade after India opened up its economy in 1991, the country attracted foreign direct investments of about $1.5 billion in the telecoms sector. State-controlled players are also expanding.

Potential for market expansion is vast as India currently has about 10 million mobile phone users in a nation of one billion people, with just four phones per 100 people against a global average of 15.

Reliance Infocomm Ltd, a unit of the country's biggest private group Reliance, on Friday launched its mobile telephony service. It is building a $5.0 billion fibre-optic network over two years, with affordability as its focus.

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