Mobile industry players are eyeing rural India as their new area of opportunity. The companies are encouraged by the fact that mobile users are expected to cross 230 million by 2007 end and 500 million by 2010.
Rural areas are expected to drive the next wave of telecom growth in the country, and they have a potential of adding at least 150 million new subscribers, says the report.
Cellular service providers seem to be answering the call of the wild as they are entering the so far ignored rural market. Although a huge market in the urban segment remains tapped, most of the cellular operators have turned towards rural India to broaden their base and reach.
A spokesman for Telecommunications Company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said: “We have enough cash assets to make that kind of investment to cover rural areas. We will erect 7,871 additional towers by mid-2008 and about 11,000 towers by 2010 to roll out 3.4 core new connections.”
BSNL is planning to invest Rs 550 crore in the next three years to cover 90% or rural India by 2010. Indias’s largest mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel recently announced plans to double its tower strength to 80,000 in rural areas by 2008.
A secretary for the Department of Telecommunications said: “The towers will assist in promoting broadband growth in rural areas. In areas where the towers are unable to reach we will provide telephony through satellite services. The government is planning to launch a satellite devoted exclusively to telecom services.”
The low population density in rural areas has necessitated more towers of higher altitudes raising the costs further. Language is another problem and there are many dialects that had no alphabet in rural India. To meet these...