Steps taken for transparent allocation of spectrum: PM

Steps taken for transparent allocation of spectrum: PM New Delhi: The government has taken steps to ensure availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday while expressing confidence the months of tough challenges faced by the sector is coming to an end.

He said the Centre has taken a number of forward looking initiatives to address concerns of investors and provide impetus to the sector for accelerating growth.

"This sector has had to face some tough challenges in the past months. However, I believe under the distinguished leadership of Kapil Sibal that the period of difficulties is now coming to an end. During the last one year, the government has taken a number of forward looking initiatives in the telecom Sector," Singh said while addressing India Telecom 2012 conference here.

He said the government has attempted to clarify the policy position on a number of complex issues and "ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its allocation in a transparent manner through market related processes".

"I am confident that the futuristic policy regime that we are now putting in place will address effectively the concerns that have been worrying investors and will provide a new impetus to the growth of telecommunications in the country," he added.

Singh also said ensuring deeper penetration of telecom and broadband services in rural parts of the country will be crucial to bridge the rural-urban divide and achieve the goal of socially inclusive growth.

Highlighting that urban India has today reached a teledensity of 169 percent compared to teledensity of only 41 percent in rural India, he said, "the bulk of 59 percent people who do not use phones in rural areas are perhaps from the socially and economically backward sections of our society."

"We must address this rural-urban divide if we have to achieve our goal of socially inclusive growth," Singh said during the event.

The Prime Minister said availability of broadband services is another issue that needs to be addressed.

He said broadband improves life of people by providing affordable access to information and knowledge.

Studies show there is a direct co-relation between an increase in broadband connectivity and growth in GDP.

"The advent of smartphones and tablets at reasonable prices along with wide availability of telecom infrastructure across our country provides an opportunity for us to ensure an equitable spread of broadband services. We must seize this opportunity," Singh said.

Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora, who was also present at the event said NTP 2012 aims "to achieve 100 percent rural teledensity and broadband for all villages and habitations by 2020".

"To achieve this we are working with industry to make high speed internet available to all Indians, regardless of where they live, there economic background, how old they are or which language they speak," Deora said.

The Prime Minister also expressed concern over thinning of domestic manufacturing capabilities in telecom in particular and in electronics in general over the last two decades.

"We need to strengthen our domestic manufacturing capabilities across the entire value chain in telecom and electronics. The new telecom and electronics policies lay down the regime for enabling this to happen. Now it is the private sector that has to seize the initiative," he said.

PTI