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|March 8, 1999||
The UP state government owned Uptron has not being doing well for some time. In a strategy to revive its prospects, Uptron recently signed a memorandum with Koshika Telecom, cellular services provider in UP.
The deal is to provide mobile 'public call offices' and cyber dhabas in the villages of UP.
Uptron Managing Director Arun Arya explains that the cyber dhabas are primarily looking at email messaging rather than surfing. He claims that email messages would also be relayed to those not owning an email address.
The service is to be upgraded so as to be able to transfer documents via email. Services such as railway enquiries would also be available at the dhabas, Arya claims.
The Uptron-Koshika deal envisages providing mobile connectivity to nearly 600 villages in western UP in the first phase that is being implemented by utilising the Koshika network.
Subsequently, the scheme proposes to cover an ambitious target of 27,000 villages that have potential for such mobile PCOs.
The rationale behind a private player tying up with a sinking state government unit is simple: Despite having a cellular network encompassing almost the entire state, Koshika has been unable to realise any returns from several areas falling under the network that do not have PCOs.
Now, with the help of Uptron, which would chip in and provide handsets to eligible, unemployed youth who would be trained under the government's TRYSEM scheme to set up mobile PCOs, Koshika would be able to extract some returns from these non-revenue generating areas.
Sources revealed that finance for the scheme would be provided to the youth under the Integrated Kural Development Programme of the Indian Rural Development Programme.
Under the cyber dhaba scheme, which officials hope would be established under the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana, eligible persons would be trained and provided with mobile phones, facsimile machines, computers and Internet connectivity.
The novel concept of cyber dhabas would facilitate instant and cheap connectivity as well as promote usage of these facilities among the rural population.
On an experimental basis, Koshika plans to install five such cyber dhabas in important cities like Lucknow and Allahabad and later spread to other areas as well.
Uptron, which has decided to concentrate on reviving its computer consultancy and instruments divisions, would benefit immensely from the scheme which, officials feel, would be an ideal showcase for exploiting the potential of its high-quality products and establish a market for them.
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