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India and Satellite Communication Systems

India first experimented with geosynchronous telecommunications relays in 1981 and now has three active spacecraft in GEO. Moreover, the launch of INSAT 2A in July, 1992, marked the debut of India's first domestically built operational GEO space-craft. In a departure from most nations, India's GEO platforms combine a communications mission with that of Earth observation.

India undertook the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975-76 to telecast a series of educational programs on health, family planning, agriculture and the like to over 2,500 Indian villages via the US satellite, ATS-6. It was the largest sociological experiment ever carried out in the world. The Satellite Telecommunication Experimental Project (STEP), conducted using Franco-German Symphonie satellite during 1977-79, was another major demonstration of communication applications of space.

India has registered an impressive growth in the telecom sector. Over the years the country has developed a vast telecom network comprising over 25000 telephone exchanges and 21.5 million working connections. There is a large network of optical fibre cables, digital microwave and satellite communication systems. A very strong industrial base has been built in the telecom sector with a large number of national and multinational telecom companies.

A number of policy changes have been made in the recent past which, if implemented, are bound to have a significant impact on the telecom scenario. The most significant among the changes is the announcement of a New Telecom Policy (NTP) 1999. The policy envisages development of telecom facilities in remote, rural and tribal areas of the country and their availability to the masses at affordable costs. The NTP 1999, which has come into effect from April 1, 1999, aims at making telephones available on demand by the year 2002 and to achieve teledensity of seven per hundred persons by the year 2005. In case of rural areas, the current teledensity is proposed to be raised from 0.4 to 4 by the year 2010. The policy document of NTP outlines rapid growth in the telecom sector in India with a projected teledensity of 15 by the year 2010. This will require a massive investment of over 23 billion dollars in the next five

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