The Government of India has approved the scheme for creation of the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to provide Broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh village Panchayats (councils).
Milind Deora, the Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, stated in a written reply to the Lok Sabha that to materialize this program, the government intends to extend the existing optical fiber network to Panchayats by utilizing the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF).
He said that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named, Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), has already been incorporated on 25th February 2012 to execute the project. The project rollout is yet to start but it is expected to be completed in 2 years. Pilot programs were being conducted in Paravada block of Vishakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, Arian block of Ajmer district in Rajasthan and Panisagar block of North Tripura district in Tripura, and about Rs. 15 crore has been spent on the pilot project under USOF scheme, he informed.
Previously, the Uttar Pradesh government had implemented the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, under which all village Panchayats (councils) in the state were linked with broadband connectivity, as reported by Firstpost. Essentially the objective of the program is to provide broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh panchayats across the country to enable the government implement various e-governance initiatives.
It’s interesting to note that the government is trying to recognize the Right to Broadband act with wire-line connections. While telecom players in private sectors are focusing wireless broadband, the wireline connections are making a come back. K Srinivas, President of Bharti Airtel‘s B2C business unit, in an interview with MediaNama said, “For the last mile, if you need to throughput big volumes, you need wireline. The fixed internet is making its way back the world over. Spectrum is limited.”
The Government had approved the National Telecom Policy 2012 on 31st May 2012 regarding broadband with the following aims:
- to provide affordable Broadband-on-demand by the year 2015 and to achieve 175 million broadband connection by the year 2017 and 600 million by the year 2020 at minimum 2 Mbps download speed and making available higher speeds of at least 100 Mbps on demand.
- to provide high speed and high quality broadband access to all village panchayats.
- to develop an eco-system for broadband to ensure availability of media for last mile access.
- to recognize right to broadband.
- to use existing infrastructure including cable TV networks are optimally for extending high quality broadband services in rural areas.
- to provide continued support from USO fund for telecom services.