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July 2, 1998
The Department of Telecommunications is setting up a realistic plan to meet its village telephone connectivity targets for the current fiscal year.
Telecom Secretary A V Gokak revealed this while elaborating on the reasons for DoT's continual failure in meeting its VPT targets in the past four-five years.
According to the National Telecom Policy of 1994, DoT was to have achieved 100 per cent village connectivity by April 1997 - a target which has been postponed to April 2002.
"There is no point having an official estimate which is difficult to achieve. It will be much better to set a realistic target and try to achieve it," said Gokak.
DoT has missed its VPT targets in the last few years consistently. At the end of the last fiscal year, DoT had installed public telephones in only 300,000 odd villages out of the over 600,000 in the country.
It had set itself a target of 87,000 VPTs last year but was able to manage about 20,000 only.
DoT has cited "commercial, technological and maintenance problems" for the shortfall in VPT rollout. The commercial problems comprise delays at DoT's end in finalising tenders for VPT equipment.
The technological problems, DoT officials say, emanate from choices of wrong technologies while implementing VPT targets. DoT has been relying on near-obsolete technologies like the 'multiple-access rural radio' or MARR to connect villages to its telecom network.
Late last year, it decided to use only digital MARR systems and not the analogue models that break down frequently in a rural environment.
While taking the decision, DoT preferred the digital wireless in local loop solutions for the villages.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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