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HindustanTimes Sat,29 Nov 2014

Boost teledensity in rural areas, PM urges industry

IANS  New Delhi, December 13, 2012
First Published: 12:37 IST(13/12/2012) | Last Updated: 12:41 IST(13/12/2012)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday urged Indian industry to come up with strategies to boost teledensity in rural areas in creative partnership with the government.

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"I urge industry, which has shown great innovation in the telecom sector, to come up with strategies to expand teledensity in rural areas," Manmohan Singh said at the inaugural session of India Telecom 2012 in New Delhi.

"I also urge the Department of Telecommunications to think big and  think creatively to see how the resources available to it, either  through the USO (universal service obligation) Fund or otherwise, are better used to achieve this  purpose."

"We cannot and we should not have an India where lack of a phone is a  hindrance to inclusive growth," he said, reminding the gathering that the New Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 70% rural penetration of  teledensity by 2017 and 100% by 2020.

Speaking on the related issue of availability of broadband services, which improves peoples' lives by providing affordable access to  information and knowledge, Manmohan Singh said it was essential to "seize this opportunity provided by the advent of smart phones and tablets at  reasonable prices along with wide availability of telecom infrastructure  across our country".

Recognising the significance of broadband connectivity  as a tool for empowering India's rural masses, he said, the government had  launched the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) project to provide  broadband to all  panchayat rural bodies.

"I am confident that this unique project (NOFN) will usher a new era in telecommunications by establishing information highways across the whole length and breadth of our country, particularly in rural areas," the prime minister said.


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