If the recent proposal from the Indian Cellular Association (ICA) to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is approved, 50M below the poverty line (BPL) families could receive a free phone along with a cellular connection.
The initiative put forth by the ICA which includes members like Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson is pretty interesting with an aim to further penetrate rural areas as well as disseminate local information like weather, news etc. with the help of call centres in the regional languages. ICA plans to provide a basic phone with AM Radio functionality and a free calling package of up to 100 calls per month/family for a period of 2 years. The total estimated cost of this initiative is expected to be around Rs. 4000-5000 crores.
However, all this totally depends on TRAI’s approval and looking at their way of working this seems to be a tough ask.