As part of the Digital India programme, the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) was piloted in Kerala’s Idukki district by union minister for communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad . The NOFN, the government’s ambitious high-speed rural broadband service, aims to link 600 million citizens in rural India across 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats and 631 districts to the Internet. In Idukki, 52 Gram Panchayats and eight block offices will be connected by the NOFN.
The government expects to connect 20,000 villages across the country through optic fibre by the end of March and Kerala is scheduled to become fully digitally connected by end-March. The Economic Times added that Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, also in southern India, are likely to follow next.
Readers will also note that the government halved its target for broadband coverage for 2014-15 and will be able to connect only 50,000 villages by the year end.
India currently has only 15.04 million wireline broadband customers as per TRAI numbers (pdf), which hasn’t really progressed over the past few years unlike the mobile connection base which has witnessed a massive growth in the same period. It also reportedly has the slowest average Internet speed among countries in the Asia Pacific region and one of the slowest broadband adoption rate globally.
Telecom Commission, had approved the Rs 20,000 crore for creating NOFN in 2011, to provide broadband services across the villages in India in three years. The DoT in December cracked the whip on officials on further delays in implementing the project and warned of action against those who are not taking decisions.
The project is being implemented by three central PSUs namely BSNL, PGCIL and Railtel in the phase first. Bharat Broad Band Nigam Limited (BBNL), will centrally manage the project through a high capacity Network Management System being developed by C-DOT. However, earlier in September TRAI released a consultation paper which wanted participation of the private sector in the NOFN and increasing the broadband penetration in the country.