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India Expected to See Affordable Net Access Soon

Affordable Internet access is expected to hit India soon now that the government plans to start licensing private Internet providers.

Speaking Sunday at the Bangalore IT.Com '98 conference, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told Reuters the government will start licensing private Internet service providers (ISPs) before Nov. 7.

"The aim of the new ISP policy is to achieve fastest possible proliferation of quality Internet service all over India at an affordable price," Vajpayee said.

He said private ISPs will have to pay no licence fee for the first five years and a fee of one rupee a year thereafter. There would be no restriction on the number of private ISP licences issued.

India-based ISPs will also be able to let foreign companies take equity stakes in thir companies as long as the stakes don't exceed 49 percent.

The privitization would end the monopoly of state-run Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd., an ISP with 150,000 subscribers.

Reuters said analysts that the lower prices private Internet providers are expected to offer should give the country another 1.5 million Internet users by the turn of the century.



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