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Reliance Communications today announced various initiatives to increase mobile telecom and internet penetration in rural India,  with the launch of three new initiatives known as “BharatNet” plan, “Grameen VAS” and “M2M” (Machine to Machine) solutions for rural customers.

Mr S P Shukla, President Wireless, Reliance Communications quoted “The Indian telecom wireless rural subscriber base is now over 125 million. The next wave of telecom growth is emerging from rural India. With rural base expected to double in the next few years, RCOM is committed to drive this exponential growth through innovative and ground breaking service offerings and tariffs.
BharatNet Plan: RCOM’s strategy to drive rural internet penetration. Today, there is an existing addressable market base of around 4 million PC users in rural India.

However these users are faced with an inherent limitation of dial-up services on quality, speed and an effective broadband service, which are currently available only to urban territories. To address this clear need, RCOM is launching “BharatNet plan”, the high-speed wireless internet service in over 20,000 rural locations across the country.

This will be a high-speed variant of its Reliance NetConnect service, but specifically designed for the rural and sub-urban markets offering speeds of approximately 153 Kbps, which is 4 to 8 times the current dial-up speed of the wire-line services. Additionally, speed quality will improve, since it is no longer dependent on the quality of the copper wire.

As part of this, RCOM is offering “BharatNet” internet access for just Rs 98/week with downloads upto 350MB. With this sachet pricing, RCOM plans to create appeal with both, casual and heavy users. This tariff will be available across rural India excluding the metros and top 100 cities. “Driving Internet penetration across the country beyond major cities is a key priority for Reliance Communications,” said Mr. Prasad.

Grameen VAS: RCOM’s Grameen VAS services cater to the specific local needs of rural mobile consumers in over 500,000 Indian villages. This roll-out signifies the company’s increased thrust into the vast potential but yet untapped Rural VAS services. The underlying belief is that the mobile phone today is not just a tool for communication, but a device to impart education, facilitate commerce and transactions, offer health and travel solutions and a critical driver for community building.

Grameen VAS will be an integral part of their day-to-day lives. Grameen VAS would cover several specialised services including Mandi Bhav, Agriculture & Animal Husbandry Updates, Weather Forecast, Local Info, Samachar etc. all in multiple Indian Languages. These solutions can be categorised broadly under mLearning, mHealth, mCommerce, mUpdates and GroupSampark (Community Messaging). These services can be accessed via different modes i.e. Voice Portals, SMS, USSD, Data (R-World) etc.

To increase adoption, Grameen VAS is priced at Rs.15/month.

Machine to Machine Applications (M2M): RCOM’s third thrust area will be high impact machine-to-machine applications. These are mobile applications that aid automation, surveillance, remote monitoring, and data gathering. The company is one of the largest users of IMs (Intelligent Modems) and has successfully used them in energy solutions in urban and semi-urban areas. RCOM sees a major potential of machine-to-machine solutions in both rural and urban markets in India.

The M2M opportunity for rural market includes Automation of Agro & Irrigation services, water level monitoring, and data gathering for milk & agri-cooperatives, fisheries, poultry, and soil analysis.

Similar such opportunities for the urban include mobile ticketing, [email protected] and vending machines, and remote monitoring of office automation products.

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