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|September 19, 1997||
The ISP trigger's been pulled. But it will take a month to set the rulesThe government's decision to allow private participation in the Internet services business is aimed at gainful utilisation of the 'national information highway' being created with an investment of Rs 7 billion, Telecom Commission Chairman A V Gokak has said.
Homework to lay down eligibility and other criteria is being done jointly by telecommunications and electronics departments and details are expected to be released within a month, Gokak told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi on Thursday.
Without specifying the licence fee structure for private Internet service providers competing with Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limted, Gokak said they would be exempt from paying the fee for the first two years.
Additionally, VSNL would charge promotional interconnect charges to enable service provider to pass on the benefit to his customer.
He said the National Information Infrastructure will have spare capacity when ready within the next five years. The government has appointed an official committee headed by Bimal Jalan, member-secretary in the Planning Commission, to report on ways to achieve customer friendly results from the spare capacity.
The chairman said that the creation of the national information highway is a conscious decision taken by the government irrespective of the demand and supply factors and to give maximum benefits to the prospective commercial and industrial subscribers.
Answering a question on whether the cable network operators would be eligible to run Internet services, Gokak said that the government would not like to be restrictive about the eligibility criteria.
A decision on whether Internet providers would be allowed foreign partnership will be announced after formalisation of the eligibility criteria within a month.
He said the Jalan Committee will have members from ministries and organisations like the railways and national power grid corporation which have offered to share their spare network transmission capacity with the Department of Telecommunications. The railways and NPGC have confirmed their desire in writing.
The chairman said that DoT has received requests from various private organisations for setting up of private long-distance network to ensure quality transmission. He said since long-distance transmission of voice and data is banned till a review of the government's policy in 1999, he hoped that the Jalan Committee will study the demand.
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