RCom Plan to Drive Telecom Growth in Rural India
Reliance Communications (RCom) on Tuesday announced a three-pronged strategy to grow mobile telephony and Internet penetration in rural India.
The new strategy comprises three initiatives: BharatNet to drive Internet penetration across rural and sub-urban terrain; Grameen VAS aimed at providing value-added services specific to rural needs; and M2M solutions with thrust on high-impact machine-to-machine solutions.
S. P. Shukla, president (Wireless), RCom, said the telecom wireless rural subscriber base, which is now over 125 million, is expected to double in the next few years. RCom is committed to drive this exponential growth through innovative and ground-breaking service offerings and tariffs.
BharatNet plan is a high-speed wireless Internet service in over 20,000 rural locations across India and will address 4 million PC users in rural India. A high-speed variant of the Reliance NetConnect service specifically designed for rural and sub-urban markets, it will offer speeds of about 153 Kbps, which is four to eight times the current dial-up speed of wire-line services. BharatNet is being offered at Rs. 98 a week with downloads up to 350 MB.
Grameen VAS services cater to specific needs of rural mobile consumers in over 5 lakh villages tapping into the vast potential of the Rural VAS services. Priced at Rs. 15 a month, it will cover several specialised services including Mandi Bhav, agriculture and animal husbandry updates, weather forecast and samachar in 10 Indian languages. The services can be accessed via different modes, that is, voice portals, SMS, USSD and Data.
Machine to Machine applications are mobile applications that aid automation, surveillance, remote monitoring, and data gathering. The M2M opportunity includes automation of agro and irrigation services, water-level monitoring, and data gathering for milk and agri-cooperatives, fisheries, poultry and soil analysis.
According to Shukla, mobile penetration in India is set to go up to 64 percent by 2013 from 39 percent now. In the rural market, the sheer numbers make up for lower ARPUs (average revenue per user). The wireless sector is estimated to be $30 billion and since 70 percent of India is rural, the rural market should contribute close to half of this in due course.
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