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A step closer to free Internet access

Feb 26, 2000

The Bharti group has announced that it would be providing free Internet services to all its basic telephony services customers in Madhya Pradesh. The service is to be provided through the group's Internet venture Mantra Online. In India currently, users of Internet services have to pay both telephone and Internet access charges. If Bharti's venture were to be permitted users would be able to access Internet at the cost of a local call. In circles where the company does not have a telephone network, it plans to tie up with the local operator to provide a free service. Bharti's revenues would form a part of the income that the telephone operator generates by way of telephone call charges.

According to International Data Corporation, Internet users in India will grow at a rate that averages 76 percent annually from 0.5 million in 1998 to 4.5 million in 2002. This growth would be stimulated once Internet usage costs decline significantly. Although there have been competitive rate cuts in the domestic markets, Internet usage rates are still high as compared to international standards.

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