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Virtual SIM allows multiple connections on a mobile handset

John Ribeiro | Dec. 9, 2009
The technology is targeted at markets where subscribers can't afford a personal mobile handset

The mobile boom is however still an urban phenomenon. Only about 20 out of 100 of people in rural areas have telephones, while in towns and cities it is 100 percent, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a telecom conference last week in Delhi. The country has to double rural penetration of phones in the next three years, he added.

Comviva is part of the Bharti Group, which also includes Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile services provider. Bharti and other mobile operators are targeting the rural market even as urban markets are getting saturated.

Users in rural markets however have smaller incomes than people in urban areas, and setting up infrastructure in far-flung rural areas can also be expensive, according to analysts.

As mobile phone tariffs are down to 0.01 Indian rupee (US$0.0002) per second, mobile phones are turning out to be cheaper than fixed-line pay phones, Chowfla said. The key barrier at this point is the cost of owning the handset, he added.

 

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