List of Value-Added Services in India's Telecom Policy
The recently announced Indian Telecom Policy recognized the need for private investors taking a major role in bringing the national telecom infrastructure up to some semblance of adequacy. This includes both basic services like subscriber telephones and exchanges, and certain value added services.
The National Telecom Policy recognizes the need to upgrade India's telecommunications network, especially if it wants to attract more investment, however, basic services are in limbo following a major scandal involving the former communications minister, Mr Sukh Ram. Meanwhile, value-added services, which would normally build on existing services, are filling the gap and generating millions of dollars in license fees for the exchequer.
In May 1994, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) decided to franchise value-added services to Indian registered companies on a non-exclusive basis. The DoT is entertaining proposals for the following services:
64Kbps Pvt. Data Domestic Service using VSAT
Direct Access Code Dialing
Bulletin Board Service
Morning Alarm Service
The DoT admits quite candidly that many of these services will substitute for the dilapidated or non-existent basic telephone services. While it promises to provide a telephone in every village by 1997, in the meantime VSATs will have to serve. It also promises a telephone on demand. But if you've been on the waiting list for three years, why not subscribe to a voice-mail service?
A warning to license-seekers: the Department of Telecommunications reserves the right to change tariffs and can terminate a license pretty much at whim, as recent experience has shown. It also reserves and uses the right to monitor and intercept messages being transmitted, on grounds of national security. Freedom of electronic expression does not really exist in India.