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BSNL's monopoly over infrastructure a hindrance to growth'
[December 26, 2007]

BSNL's monopoly over infrastructure a hindrance to growth'

(Financial Express Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) In the midst of a virtual war for telecommunication spectrum, LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy and regulation building organisation, recently released recommendations for unlicensing spectrum in the country. Rohan Samarajiva, executive director of LIRNEasia, said, "Despite privatisation of the telecom industry, government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's (BSNL's) virtual monopoly and its stranglehold on infrastructure are major dampeners to growth." The organisation recently released a book in Chennai called ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks, authored by Samarajiva. "The government should be open to auction spectrum to enable transparent allocation, which will also speed growth," he said. Auctioning of spectrum is a standard procedure followed in several developed countries. Rural connectivity is now the focus of every telecommunication player in the country. Almost all stakeholders, from handset manufacturers to service providers, believe that the next wave of growth is in the rural areas. "However, India's roll out (of telecom services) in rural areas has been slow. BSNL has the backbone infrastructure but is not yet ready to share it with private players," he added. BSNL should be made to share its fibre and access networks, Samarajiva said. With shared infrastructure and innovation in marketing, costs can be brought down further, he said. Moreover, telecom companies should also shift their focus from calculating average revenue per user (Arpu) to average margin per user (Ampu), he added. The Sri Lanka-based organisation's programme of actionable research seeks to identify institutional constraints to effective use of ICT across the region and the book emphasises the same, Samarajiva said. The book lists out the roadblocks to ICT growth in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Indonesia. Currently, the majority of LIRNEasia's programmes are funded by the International Development Research Centre of Canada. LIRNEasia's work has also been funded by InfoDev, a World-Bank unit that has partnered with LIRNE.NET since 2001 in the World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies.

Copyright 2007 The Indian Express Online Media Ltd, Source: The Financial Times Limited

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