India To Allow Internet Telephony Next Year

BOMBAY — Indian communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan has announced that the country would allow Internet telephony in the country from April 2002, ahead of an earlier plan to do so in 2004.

“We have advanced the decision to allow Internet telephony in the country to April 1, 2002 from 2004. If we allow it now it will only help those with Internet connections…when the Internet reaches villages and towns we will allow Internet telephony,” the minister said.

Earlier, in February, the Economic Survey of India for 2000-1, a report card on the country’s economy, found that permitting Internet telephony and a single licensing regime would lead to a convergence of services in the telecommunications sector.

“Internet telephony needs to be opened up so that Internet access and telephone can be bundled together to take the information communication to the rural areas,” the survey said.

A panel advising Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on economic issues in its recent report had advocated that the government should consider allowing voice telephony over the Internet to bring down the costs for users significantly.

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