Rising data costs are a cause for concern, which will be discussed with the regulator, says Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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The government plans to tie up with several countries to provide them with a technology stack

New Delhi:

Rising prices of data and devices are a concern over the rapid spread of digitization, Minister of State for Electronics and Computing Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Wednesday.

The comments came amid a recent hike in the country’s second-largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel’s minimum monthly payment plan of around 57%.

“Rising cost of data or cost of devices is a concern as it is a barrier to rapid digitization. We aim to bring 120 million Indians online by 2025. Today we have 83 million Indians online. We will see issues with data consumption cost increases or any device cost increases,” Chandrasekhar said on the sidelines of the India Stack Developers Conference.

The minister said he had not investigated the recent hike in mobile service prices by Airtel and was waiting for telecom regulator Trai to look into it.

“We’ll definitely talk to Trey, what is it? Is it short-term due to the general Russia-Ukraine issue? Long term? Is this a trend or an episodic problem? These are the questions we ask,” Chandrasekhar said.

He also said that due to the Russia-Ukraine war, prices were affected worldwide and the impact on data prices should be considered.

The minister said the cost of data and devices is a barrier to digitization.

“If the operator is going to take it, that’s a question Meiti will definitely ask, why is he taking it?” What are the reasons behind it? Is this due to a supply chain issue? But it is “our mission at Meiti to ensure that data is available in India because it is the secret sauce of digitization,” he said, raising its minimum top-up price for Bharti Airtel data plans. Around 57% off Rs 155 for 28 days of mobile phone service in eight regions including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Uttar Pradesh.

The company has discontinued its Rs 99 minimum recharge plan that offered 200 megabytes of data and calls at Rs 2.5 per second. In Haryana and Odisha, Airtel has now started offering Rs 155 pack with unlimited calls, 1GB data and 300 SMS.

Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Informatics said that people should achieve digital inclusion, talk about digital opportunities and ensure that there is no digital divide.

“We need to provide digital connectivity to all parts of the country. We need to ensure that the cost of data is affordable and create a productive ecosystem for digital connectivity by reducing the cost of devices,” he said.

Addressing the conference, the minister said five to seven countries are expected to sign up to adopt Indian-developed technology platforms like UPI and Aadhaar by March to accelerate digitization. signing up for the world (adopting platforms),” Chandrasekhar said. According to him, the countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and South America are expected to register.

As part of its responsibility as the G20 chairmanship, the government has trained them on the technology stack (Aadhaar, UPI, Digi Locker, Co-Win, GeM, GSTN etc.

The minister said that India’s technology stack is offered to countries that do not want to spend billions of dollars on digitization.

According to him, both Indian and foreign companies can participate in the development of the ecosystem.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published on a syndicated channel.)

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