Comprehensive Essay on Rural Telecommunication in India

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Telecommunication revolution has indeed swept the country and the future looks even more prospective.

Gather, the international research group, estimated a few years back that there would be as many as 1.28 billion telephony in 2006. It needs to be pointed out that the scenario projected by gather of the dominance of fixed line being around 7515 in 2006 has changed cellular lines are definitely higher presently.

Technological innovations especially during the latter half of the 20the century have progressed at such a rapid pace that they have permeated almost every facet of our lives.

Tele is Greek word meaning distance and communication is started from the Latin word Communis which means common.

According to Roger and Shoemaker (1971) communication is the process by which message are transferred from source to receiver. Telecommunication is defined as the sharing the feeling to those people who are near or far away from us.

Telecommunication is the transmission of messages, over significant distances, for the purpose of communication. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as smoke, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded drum beats, lung-blown horns, or sent by loud whistles, for example.

The telecom expansion strategy adopted in urban areas cannot be duplicated for the rural areas. Rural specific strategy would require to be worked out taking into account its main economic activity migration pattern magnitude of the population geography distance from the nearest Urban town/City economic linkages with the adjoining rural areas and town and cities, health, education, and education facilities and technology.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

The International Telecommunication Union has estimated that one per cent investment in telecommunication results in a 3 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) which confirms the linkages between tele-density and GDP.

The tele-density in India- the number of telephone lines for every 100 people is abysmally low. Teledensity in rural India is only 0.5 and one third of India’s 6,00,000 villages are still without a village public telephone (VPT) which can save transportation costs, fuel and time.

The VPTs have several benefits such as reducing migration from rural to urban areas and providing communication assistance in a disaster, relief and rescue operations. The overall tele- density stands at 3.8 whereas China has a tale density of 9 and the World telephones were to be available on demand by 2001 but the waiting list in November 2001 was 3.2 million.

The deregulations of the telecom industry and action on Internet telephony have received greater attention than proposals for rural and household telephones.

Evolution of Mobile Technology

Mobile technology refers to technology that is portable. In this sense of the term mobile technology includes: mobile phones and smart phones and phones with more advanced capacities, laptop computer and global positioning system devices and so on.

This mobile device provides possible networking for the home office of the Internet while on the move. This technology helps one to get connected to others at home, office and create a shared environment.

Mobile Communications is the assisted transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication to or from a mobile device or user. It allows the user to be connected while on the move.

Starting from its early beginnings in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the mobile communication technology has undergone many revolutions drastic changing the face of these services in terms usability, cost, quantity and quantity of services it offers.

In 1980 mobile phone systems was an analogue offering to support basis voice services to the users like advanced mobile phone system (AMPS), Nordic mobile Communication. The second generation (2G) mobile network based on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication).

Mobile telecommunication

Mobile telecommunication is the assisted transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication to or from a mobile device or user. It allows the user to be connected while on the move.

Starting from its early beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the mobile communication technology has undergone many revolutions drastic changing the face of this services in terms of usability cost, quality and quantity of service it offers.

In this process of evolution, it has undergone through certain distinctive stages known as generations of mobile telecommunication   technology defined in terms technical features and standards of services delivered to the consumers.

In 1980s mobile system was analogue offering to support basic voice services to the users like advanced mobile phone system (AMPS), Nordic mobile phone telephone (NMT) etc, the second generation (2G) mobile network based on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Network) technology had the capacity to carry higher quality of voice calls, basic short messaging services (SMS) and very low speed data connectivity.

With the introduction of technologies such as enhanced data rates for GSM evolution (EDGE), code division multiple accesses (CDMA) and digital advanced mobile phone services (DAMPS) in 1990s the mobile systems evolved to accommodate higher speed of data transfer up to 384 KB/Sec.

The system of digitally encrypted phone conversation made the 2G mobile system significantly more efficient on the spectrum allowing for far greater mobile phone penetration levels and introduced data services for mobile, starting with an SMS text message.

Mobile Phone Initiatives

In Pondichery, the information village project of the M.S. Swaminathan research foundation has connected ten villages by a hybrid wired and wireless network- consisting of PCS telephone, VHF duplex radio devices and email connectivity through dial up telephone lines that facilities both voices and data transfer and have enabled the villagers to get information that they need and can use.

In West Bengal, in certain remote villages enterprising villagers are already running mobile PCOs, visiting a particular village on a fixed day. In AP, last year a unique Gram Phone project using  an ultra- low cost solution was successfully executed in Kalleda, a remote village in Warangal district by Hyderabad based rural telecom foundation (RTF) a nonprofit NGO and has been able to cover 70 of the households in the village within a short span of two months called the Gram phone in a modified as a party theme based on a very low cost, modulator, easily expandable configuration for sharing a single wire line that is complementary compatible with all of the existing 25,000 CDOT exchanged in rural areas.

Telecommunication Connectivity under the Bharat Nirman Programme, it will be ensured that 66,822 revenue villages in the country, which have not yet been provided by a village public telecommunication (VPT) shall be covered.

Out of the above village Public connectivity in 14,183 remote and far flung villages will be provided through digital satellite Phone terminals. A  National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) study reveals that 71 per cent of the farmers do not even know about the Government’s minimum support price (MSP) scheme.

The need for multimedia content and communication is much more important in the rural context on account of low literacy levels and innate connectivity requirements of rural toil medicine and e- education etc.

The government emphasis on telecom sector is quite evident with the use scheme for coverageITU's latest statistics, published in The World in 2009: ICT facts and figures reveal rapid ICT growth in many world regions in everything from mobile cellular subscriptions to fixed and mobile broadband, and from TV to computer penetration - with mobile technology acting as a key driver. Mobile growth is continuing, with global mobile subscriptions expected to reach 4.6 billion by the end of the year, and mobile broadband subscriptions to top 600 million in 2009.

China surpassed the 600 million mark by mid-2008, becoming the world's biggest mobile phone market Growth in India's mobile sector, from a humble start in the mid-1990s, has really picked up pace in recent years, aided by higher subscriber volumes, lower tariffs and falling handset prices. Home to a clutch of global operators working with local companies, India had almost 350 million mobile subscribers (including GSM & CDMA) in early 2008.

"Market liberalisation has played a key role in spreading mobile telephony by driving competition and bringing down prices," the ITU noted. India's mobile operators have been attracting new customers with call rates as low as US$0. 01 a minute and by offering cheap handsets. While offering some of the lowest tariffs in the world, the market also had the highest usage in the world with the average customer using 500 minutes a month.

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

As of April 2009 the country had 430 million telephone connections with the mobile segment accounting for 93 per cent. However 70 per cent of all connection is present in Urban area which have a teledenisity of 77 per cent. The plan now is to increase the rural teledenisity fourfold to 40 per cent within the next 5 year and ensure that every Panchayat is connected to a broadband network in the next 3 year.

Kisan Call Centre Services:

In case of mobile phone based services central and state Government and private players are increasingly tapping into this widely available medium. An example of the same is the KCC services recently launched by the Directorate of Extension, the department of Agriculture and cooperation which offer expert advice on Agriculture related problems/ queries. In the private sector, a good example is Bharti- IFFCo’s  joint venture whereby cheap mobile handsets costing less than Rs.2000  are bundled with  mobile values added services such as free daily voice messages on marketing prices for their produce, farming technology weather forecasts daily farming and fertilizer availability.

Rural Broadband Kiosks

Various studies have shown that both mobile and broadband content have shown a healthy demand from villagers for Agriculture, marketing tele- education and e-health services. The desire to learn English and other subjects through mobile/Internet Application is particularly strong and has a significant revenue potential in Rural India.

Recognizing that relevant content in local languages in necessary to make rural broadband services meaningful USOF had encouraged the adoption of a franchise model in partnership with professional content aggregators for the subsidized broadband Kisok being rolled out by BSNL under USOF’s wire line broadband scheme under its agreement with USOF, BSNL is to roll out about 28000 rural broadband  kiosk  are meant for access to basic browsing and various types of commercial values added services including  entertainment, Information, tele-education and telemedicine.

Telecommunication in Health

Telemedicine is a new approach in Health Communication. Telemedicine is still in its infancy in India but is undergoing rapid development. Telemedicine is coming up as an alternative in providing healthcare services. It is the most effective method to provide special care in rural areas, where people do not have the financial means or the accessibility to medical services.

Hence, in India, telemedicine will help people in remote geographical areas get the attention of a medical specialist in real time. Telemedicine is not a panacea for all the challenges facing the rural patients and community health providers, But it can bring hope and better healthcare to millions of people across the country, ensuring that a heartbeat in a secluded village can be heard clearly, even in a busy city.

Conclusion

In the changing media scenario, telecommunication systems to a large extent are facilitated by computerized system and wireless mobile telephony. In telephones long- distance data transmissions mobile telephones and the Internet, it forms the basis of communication.

The practice of telecommunication and related telecommunication based work from home; common in Europe and is developing western nations is gaining ground especially in the IT sector in India.

Telecommunication broadly includes people who operate a business from home, people who are employed by a firm that permits them to do some or all of the work at home and people who simply cannot finish their work at the weekends. Several MNCs and software and telephony corporations encourage telecommunicating among their highly skilled technical employees.

Telecommunication is useful to rural as well as urban both areas. In rural areas telecommunication provides awareness, information as well as education.  Rural development is only possible if the updated information is given to the rural women.

The change is more visible in countries like India for the geographical penetration and adaptability of the mobile phones is very high compared to other Information and Communication technology and services.

There are 563.73 million mobile phone subscribers and more than ten millions are added every month. High penetration suggests that mobile phones are widely used and have significant social and economic impacts.

But for a technology to evolve and become better adapted to its users need to appropriate it, make it their own and embedded it with in their lives, than simply adopted it. Users renegotiate the technology to better answer their needs. The wide penetration of mobile phones in India is fundamentally because its use opens up new socio economic opportunities. Through experimentation, users explore innovative ways of adopting the mobile phone.

About the Author:

Arpita Sharma is Doctoral Research Scholar in the Dept. of Agricultural Communication of G. B. Pant University at Pantnagar. She obtained her M.Sc. from the same University. Her research interests focus on the Effects of Information Communication Sources on Rural Society. She has published review papers, research papers, articles in various Mass Communication journals and Rural Development Journals as well as Magazines. She had got the Assistance-ship during M.Sc. and UGC-JRF Fellowship in Ph.D. She has presented papers in National and International seminars.

Email: sharmaarpita53-at-gmail.com


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