May 28 :Multi-lateral funding agency Asian Development Bank will provide USD 150 million for developing rural telephony in India.
The Bank will finance the setting up of 17,100 telecommunication towers, especially in the rural areas, to uplift the mobile phone coverage in the country, ADB said in a release.
For the project, ADB will provide a loan of up to USD 150 million to GTL Infrastructure Ltd (GIL), a leading telecommunication infrastructure provider in the country, to roll out Phase -II of the project.
GIL is implementing Phase I of its rollout plan to set up 6,600 towers throughout the country.
"We believe that the project will enable mobile operators to accelerate coverage into remote and sparsely populated areas, leading to rural development and pro-poor economic growth," Investment Specialist of ADBs Private Sector Operations Department Shantanu Chakraborty said.
The expansion plans assumes importance in the light of the government’s aim of reaching 500 million telephone subscriber limit by 2010.
The recent growth in the telecommunication sector in the country has not reached much in the rural areas, which still suffer from severe lack of communication infrastructure.
Of around 6,00,000 villages in the country, about 7 per cent do not even have landline phone connections.
The poor coverage of the rural areas is evident from the fact that only about half the towns and one sixth of the villages have been covered so far by the communication infrastrucutre, the release said.
The total subscriber base including landline and mobile services in the country stood around 273 million in the end of 2007, registering an annual growth of 44 per cent. Courtsey : DD NEWS