India leapfrogs to 4G wireless

3G will be bypassed, says tech minister

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

India's mobile telephony service providers are 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."

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 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," he said.

"There are still about 50,000 villages in India which do not have telephone facility. I would like to see that they are all connected, preferably during the current year."

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

The minister ruled out the privatisation of government-owned telecoms services companies such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, both based in Delhi.

John Ribeiro writes for IDG News Service

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