"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.