India to leapfrog to 4G wireless

India to leapfrog to 4G wireless

India aims to leapfrog to fourth-generation (4G) wireless technology, skipping 3G technology because it has not been found to be cost-effective, according to the country's new minister for IT and communications, Dayanidhi Maran.

India's mobile telephony service providers are currently providing services based on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) or Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technologies.

"The 3G standard has been evolved, but has not proved cost-effective," said Maran. "I therefore plan to leapfrog this generation and develop 4G technology. India has an opportunity with its large market and high technical skills to be a significant player in this field. We are going to set up a National Centre for Excellence in this area."

The new coalition government, led by the Congress Party, took charge this week following the defeat of a coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party whose economic reforms did not percolate to the country's rural masses. Maran's agenda hence reflects a stronger focus on taking the benefits of technology to India's masses.

"I believe that for communication and IT facilities to be truly relevant in India, they will have to touch the lives of villagers," Maran said. "There are still about 50,000 villages in India which do not have telephone facilities. I would like to see that they are all connected, preferably during the current year."

The new government also aimed to take Internet connectivity, including facilities such as tele-agriculture, tele-health, and tele-education to at least some of the bigger villages, he said.

The minister also ruled out privatisation of government-owned telecom services companies such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, both based in Delhi. The previous government had been pushing for privatisation of some key government-owned companies. Maran, however, quelled speculation that promotion of the IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries would take a back-seat after the new government, backed by leftists, took charge.

"I shall make all endeavors to make India the world's hub for outsourcing skilled manpower in the IT sector," he said. "India cannot hope to aspire to become a great IT nation without adequate level of R&D (research and development) work. Towards this, our national R&D institutions would be given encouragement to invest in R&D and bring about world-class technologies."

India also plans to have a national Internet exchange through which it hopes to connect all Internet service providers (ISPs) to achieve efficient Internet traffic routing, cost reduction, and improve the quality of service for the Internet users in India.

The country also plans to migrate to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) by 2006.

"Worldwide, IPv6 is being implemented on the Internet to accommodate increased number of users and take care of security concerns," Maran said.

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