3G to spur socio-political reforms in India, says expert

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The Independent Online

The launch of third-generation (3G) mobile services in India can help promote socio-political reforms in the world's second largest nation, an expert told a telecoms conference Thursday.

T.R. Dua, deputy director-general of the non-profit Cellular Operators Association of India, said high-speed 3G services can deliver much-needed education and medical services to poor, far-flung regions.

Third-generation services can solve the "inadequacy of spectrum" in current systems and boost "telemedicine, education, governance ... all this we are looking forward to provide", Dua said at the CommunicAsia trade fair.

The 3G platform allows mobile phone users to surf the Internet, make video calls and download music and other content at a much faster pace than the current second-generation or 2G service.

Dua told AFP on the sidelines of the fair that 3G, expected to be rolled out commercially from September, will be able to tackle latent social issues facing the rural regions.

"There is a shortage of doctors going to those semi-urban and rural areas... So the best way is to provide this facility so that you can access the nearest, or even the farthest hospital online," Dua said.

"You can see the pulse, online you can see the blood pressure, online you can monitor the heart and give a complete prescription and also diagnose the whole thing."

Poor education infrastructure in rural India would also be addressed by the introduction of 3G, Dua said.

"When you go to semi-urban and rural areas, there's not the proper schools available, not the proper education system available. What we did was... connect it to the the nearest town, connect it to the nearest metro city."

"Online, teachers are available, online questions are available, so that the children in the far flung areas will be given the type of education they require," he stated.

India had more than 600 million mobile subscribers as of May and is adding 12 to 15 million subscribers a month, according to figures shown by Dua.

The Indian government finished its auction of 3G bandwidth for cellphone services last month, reaping 15 billion dollars from licences.