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.
“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.