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10 to 15-crore phone lines in three years: Maran

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, NOV. 19. The Communications and IT Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, today asked the top brass of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) to pull up their socks and plan for an additional 10 to 15-crore phone lines over the next three years. He expressed concern over the decline in the share of public sector companies in providing phones in the last five years.

Mr. Maran also asked them to focus on rural areas and not to restrict themselves to voice services in order to generate revenue. "In order to maintain the market domination, you must plan for an additional 100-150 million lines over the next three years. We must also reach out to the rural areas. All unconnected villages must be connected in a time-bound manner. We must have a time-bound plan to cover all tehsils and block headquarters," he said, at the annual heads of telecom circles conference here.

Yearly, monthly targets

Calling for an integrated professional approach to meet the target of providing 200-250 million telephones by the year 2007, Mr. Maran stressed the importance of detailed planning and an integrated approach. He directed officials to prepare plans with yearly and monthly targets. These targets would be monitored by a Committee. "Planning ahead is crucial to expansion," he said.

Mr. Maran asked the heads of circles to focus on Internet and broadband services to ensure financial viability. "We must achieve 2 crore Internet connections and one crore broadband connections by the year 2007."

He also stressed the need for training of junior staff to promote and deliver broadband services.

Expressing concern over at the delay in procurement, Mr. Maran wanted the BSNL and the MTNL to maintain a consistent and timely supply of equipment to each circle by drawing a plan based on the anticipated demand, to avoid waiting lists for telephone connections. This type of planning will definitely make the `telephone on demand' a reality, he added.

A change in attitude and greater professionalism would lead to better service. There was a need for a faster complaint redress mechanism to meet the public's demands.

The two-day conference was also addressed by the Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Shakeel Ahmad and the CMDs of BSNL and MTNL.

The Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, Nripendra Misra, and other senior officers, attended the conference.

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