Indian users can now access a range of multiple utilities on their mobile phones as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday launched the state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd's (MTNL) third generation (3G) service, called 'Jaadu' or magic.
"I congratulate MTNL and the communications minister for launching the 3G service," the prime minister said.
"Competition has to be the major propeller of the Indian economy and it has to be a sustainable one. At the same time, recent global events have also shown that self-interest involving means of progress is not always the same as the needs of public interest.
"Therefore, effective, objective, impartial regulation has to be an integral part of all these infrastructure sectors which have been thrown open to these communication both by domestic and international investors," he added.
Referring to last month's Mumbai terrorist strikes, he said: "As I have been briefed about the havoc in Mumbai, I also discovered that modern technology and also the way powerful instruments in the hands of anti-social elements like terrorists, and how they could make use of this advanced technology like internet etc.
"So, it is very important that there should be effective cooperation and coordination between the agencies whose responsibility it is to safeguard security efforts and the producers and all those who are in the industry," he added.
Elaborating on the achievements of the telecom industry, Manmohan Singh said in Indian mobile telephone operators signed up a record number of over 10 million users in October.
At this rate of growth, the total telecom subscriber base is expected to reach 700 million by the year 2012 (covering nearly 70 percent of the country's population), with about 650 million mobile users and 50 million landlines, he said.
While mobile number portability (MNP) will enable subscribers to change their operators while retaining their number, it will also lead operators to further improve their services to retain their customers, the prime minister observed.
"The possibility of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) is also being considered," he said.
"I understand that the telecom sector has started experimenting with mobile payments under the guidelines issued by the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and soon mobile banking will also be a reality in our country," he said.
While MTNL rolled out its 3G services only in the national capital Thursday, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will launch them in Chennai next month.
Communications and IT Minister A. Raja, also present on the launch event here, made a video call from his handset, demonstrating the capabilities of 3G services.