Reliance Communications (RCom) on Tuesday announced strategic initiatives aimed at growing mobile telephony and Internet penetration in rural India.

The rural blue-print is based on a three-pronged strategy that includes driving Internet penetration across rural and sub-urban terrain, thrust on high impact machine-to-machine solutions and providing value-added services specific to rural needs.

RCom President (Wireless) S. P. Shukla said “the telecom wireless rural subscriber base is now over 125 million. The next wave of telecom growth is emerging from rural India. With the 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.”

Mr. Shukla said mobile penetration in India was set to go up to 64 per cent by 2013 from 39 per cent now. “In the rural market, the sheer numbers make up for lower ARPUs (average revenue per user). The wireless sector is estimated to be $30 billion and since 70 per cent of India is rural, the rural market should contribute close to half of this in due course.”

RCom is launching three initiatives — BharatNet plan, Grameen VAS and M2M (Machine to Machine) solutions — under its rural drive. BharatNet plan is a high-speed wireless Internet service in over 20,000 rural locations across India and will address four million PC users in rural India. A high-speed variant of the Reliance NetConnect service specifically designed for rural and sub-urban markets, it will offer speeds of about 153 Kbps, which is 4 to 8 times the current dial-up speed of wire-line services. BharatNet is being offer at Rs. 98 a week with downloads up to 350 MB.

With this sachet pricing, RCom plans to create for all users across rural India.

Grameen VAS services cater to specific needs of rural mobile consumers in over five lakh villages tapping into the vast potential of the Rural VAS services. Priced at Rs. 15 a month, it will cover several specialised services including Mandi Bhav, agriculture and animal husbandry updates, weather forecast and samachar in 10 Indian languages. The services can be accessed via different modes, that is, voice portals, SMS, USSD and Data.

Machine to Machine applications are mobile applications that aid automation, surveillance, remote monitoring, and data gathering. The M2M opportunity includes automation of agro and irrigation services, water level monitoring, and data gathering for milk and agri-cooperatives, fisheries, poultry and soil analysis.

RCom President (Mobile Data Content Services) Mahesh Prasad said “our goal is to offer to this large rural population across India, innovative products and services customised for rural and local needs. The rural market offers significant as well as large-scale opportunity to tap highly potential but relatively unaddressed market topography.”

More In: Companies | Business