Dial Into SAARC Partnerships: Maran

New Delhi | Updated: Jul 1 2004, 03:20am hrs
India has called for sharing of telecom infrastructure among SAARC countries for intra-regional communication with a view to bring down the costs of telecom services.

This was stated by communications and information technology minister Dayanidhi Maran, while addressing the 2nd SAARC Communication Ministers Conference at Islamabad in Pakistan on Tuesday.

Mr Maran said that using each others infrastructure for intra-regional communication can prove to be economically advantageous and will help bringing down costs for consumers.

Mr Maran also called for cooperation in developing technical specifications for telecom equipment to be deployed in the SAARC region. He offered Indias cooperation in devising a regional standard body. With a view to avoid duplication of approvals, he said there should be mutual recognition of approvals granted by various SAARC countries. Among the member countries, there should be free flow of telecom equipment, cables and accessories, he added.

Mr Maran also said that a preferential utilisation of telecom equipment manufactured within SAARC countries should be considered, according to an official release.

Expressing the need for cooperation for development and promotion of R&D in the telecommunications sector among member countries, he stated that specialised institutions of SAARC countries can be engaged in the joint development of specific products to be utilised within the SAARC region and for exports.

For more effective regional co-operation, Mr Maran suggested that it would also be necessary to digitalise inter-country links within the region in a time-bound manner.

On our part, we have digitalised all our telephone exchanges, he said. He called upon the member countries to set up a high bandwidth hub for extension of leased circuits. He stated that with the increase of economic activity, demand for leased bandwidth is also likely to multiply.

The setting up of a high bandwidth hub for extension of leased circuits, using the infrastructure of member countries, can give us a competitive advantage over the rest of world. Cooperation at the regional level will enable us to harness the benefits of this sector, he said.

Mr Maran suggested a task force to monitor and map the developments in the communication sector in the region. The task force could perhaps be set up under the SAARC secretariat, he suggested.