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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 16:48 GMT
Indian phone firms slash prices
Mobile phone users in India
India is one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world
India's state-run telecoms companies have announced plans to cut long distance call charges to just one rupee (1 penny; 2 cents) a minute.

The move by Delhi-based operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) follows similar price cuts by private sector rivals.

BSNL, India's largest telecoms group by sales, said the lower rates would apply to both mobile and landline users.

The Indian government has been keen to expand the country's telecoms market.

Kashmir to Kanyakumari

Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran has set the target of doubling the number of long distance call connections in India to 250 million by March 2008.

India's mobile industry has been rapidly expanding, as the government moves to open-up the market and improve access to foreign investors.

But despite boosting one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets, India still lags behind Asian rival China in the number of mobile users among its population.

"The new plan will enable the customers of BSNL and MTNL to call from one end of India to the other, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, at the cost of one rupee per minute," said BSNL chairman and managing director AK Sinha.

Both companies said the new rates would be available from 1 March.

Mumbai-based private sector operator Reliance Infocomm has already launched a similar cut-price deal.

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