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|December 28, 1998||
A landmark year for telecommunicationsA change of guard in the communications ministry four times, the postal strike and the introduction of 'global mobile personal communication by satellite' services and the Internet service provider policy were the major highlights of the telecommunications sector in 1998.
The year witnessed a change of guard in the communication ministry four times, starting with Beni Prasad Verma of the United Front government followed by Buta Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Jagmohan from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.
The country also witnessed a number of new measures of far reaching impact in the telecommunication sector. The most significant among them is the introduction of the global mobile personal communications by satellite and the Internet service provider policy.
Another major development was the constitution of a Group on Telecommunications to make recommendations on the pending issues in the telecom sector.
Under the GMPCS system the subscriber will have a single telephone number irrespective of his location. Flexible and convenient communication will be possible with more economical use of the radio frequency spectrum.
Under the ISP policy, private companies have been allowed to enter the Internet services market that had been the monopoly of the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited and the Department of Telecommunications.
The GoT will make recommendations on the proposed new telecom policy, issues relating to the existing licences of basic and cellular services and suggest appropriate remedial measures within the framework of the NTP.
This 12-member group, chaired by the deputy chairperson of the planning commission, was constituted on the prime minister's direction.
Apart from this, DoT has also set up a seven-member group headed by Additional Secretary (Telecommunications) Dhanendra Kumar, under the focus action group on private investment promotion, programme to encourage, stimulate and facilitate private investment in the telecom sector.
During the year, the country also witnessed the entry of 'first private sector company (Bharati Telenet) in the basic telephone services in two cities of Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
As of now, nine companies have got letters of intent for 13 telephone circles and licences have been issued for six circles for Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan.
This year, DoT also allowed the conference facility to subscriber trunk dialling and international subscriber dialling services from public call office at the existing tariff and commission.
Retired DoT employees will get concessional telephone facilities including rent-free telephone and free call concessions depending on their grades at the time of retirement.
During the year, the government also allowed national and international automatic roaming between various cellular operators.
Apart from this optical fibre telecom link was commissioned between Nepal and India.
DoT has signed a memorandum of understanding with US-based educational institutes to establish Sankhya Vahini, a national high-speed inter-university data network.
DoT has also decided to engage marketing agents to popularise value added services and also accelerate the introduction of new services.
The government has decided to grant employees at the postman and mail guard level in the Department of Posts upgraded replacement scales of pay while extra-departmental agents would be granted benefits after considering the recommendations of Justice Talwar Committee report.
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