India’s Free Phone For Poor Scheme Will Give Preference to Local Manufacturers

The Indian government, which intends to distribute millions of phones to the poor for free, will only promote “Made in India” products to promote local manufacturing, according to a new report.

The rural mobile phone project, officially called Bharat Mobile scheme, will provide phones to households from where at least one member has completed 100 days of work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in 2012.

India’s Telecom Commission has proposed to use only “Made in India” products for this scheme. Though the criteria for selecting the households is still unclear, the Commission has suggested that it should not be based on wage employment scheme such as MNREGA. [Source]

Image: RML Website
Image: RML Website

The three year scheme will give preference to women.

Telecom operators will be invited to bid for the project and selected operators will be responsible for distributing mobile phone, a connection and access to service centres. Though services are offered free of cost to the the users, telcos will be paid by the government.

To ensure authentic users access the service, the phones will have authentication software.

Department of Telecom, is hoping that the large scale of the project will motivate more brands to set up manufacturing facilities in the country. Currently phone makers including Indian brands rely on imports, though Nokia & Samsung have manufacturing units in India.

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