SAARC telecom CEO summit to discuss better access


Kathmandu : Over 100 CEOs representing both telecom service providers and regulators from South Asia will meet here Thursday to discuss how to provide better telecom access in semi-urban and rural areas.

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At the sixth annual conference — to be inaugurated by Shankar Prasad Koirala, IT and telecom secretary at the ministry of information and communications, in the absence of the Maoist minister who quit last month — head honchos from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives will exchange experiences in a bid to take telecom beyond cities.

The agenda includes crucial areas like telecom penetration, quality of service, adoption of new technologies, and above all, affordability.

Prasanto K. Roy, chief editor of the Voice & Data journal that is hosting the three-day conclave, says it is intended to come up with a plan to address access affordability and technology issues.

The meet will also present the SAARC Telecom Innovation Awards for mobile operators from each of the SAARC countries based on an online poll conducted among more than 6,000 users in the region.

It will also host the first summit of the SAARC Telecom Advisory Council (STAC), in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that will draw up a roadmap for building synergies in SAARC telecom for 2008 and beyond.

The main objective behind this is to work out areas of opportunities for SAARC cooperation for meeting individual country telecom targets.

The delegates include Kuldeep Goyal, CMD, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd of India, Hamid Farooq, CEO, Warid Telecom, Pakistan, Suren Jeevaka Amarasekera, CEO, Mobitel, Sri Lanka; S.K. Vashishta, MD, Railtel, India; Dinesh Sharma, chairman, Nepal Telecom Authority; R.N. Prabhakar, member, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI); V. Ravi Sankar, COO, VSNL Lanka; Nayeem M. Chowdhury, director, WorldTel, Bangladesh and Sultan ul Arfeen, chairman, Telecard Limited, Pakistan.

The private sector players will be represented by Hari Dev Khosla, deputy chief operating officer, Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Limited, Bharti Airtel’s CMO-East Hub G.V. Krishnan and Satyen Gupta, chief regulatory advisor, SAARC Region, British Telecom Global.

The prominent service providers include Reliance Infocom, VSNL, Bharti, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, MTNL, Aircel, Railtel, Diraagu of Maldives; Telenor of Pakistan; BPL Mobile; British Telecom and Nepal Doorsanchar.