BSNL’s first rural kiosk, or Common Service Centersevice centre as it is called, is finally operational at the Savlaj village in Sangli, Maharashtra. Set up under the e-governance scheme ‘Wire-Line Broadband Connectivity to Rural & Remote Areas’, the kiosk is the first of 1 lakh facilities initially planned by the telco in 2005. BSNL had first announced that it would set up the kiosks to cover 48 per cent of rural population by 2007. Last year,BSNL has since revised its target. According to the most recent press release issued by the government, the number is down to 30,000 rural broadband kiosks, which will be set up in the next three years. These plans to set up kiosks keep getting pushed back, consistently.

Funds

The Universal Service Obligations fund set up by the DoT has granted a subsidy to BSNL for setting up the kiosk and also offers quarterly subsidy of Rs 20,000 for a period of 3 years for operating them. Meanwhile, private firm SREI Sahaj has partnered with Punjab National Bank to set up 24780 Internet kiosks, with an investment of Rs 10 billion. We had reported that Sahaj expects the kiosks to be operational by the end of this fiscal year.

Networking Villages

BSNL plans to install an ADSL2+ network with speeds of 2 Mbps that will connect the kiosks, enabling triple play services.  The press release said the kiosk will offer triple play services – will this be BSNL’s IPTV service? People can also use the kiosks for utility bill payments, railway ticketing, mobile handsets content downloads, etc. There’s no mention of how BSNL plans to tackle the electricity problem – is solar power being considered?

Locally relevant services such as agricultural trading, education on crops, micro finance will also be proferred through the kiosk.

e-PCO

Last year, BSNL had announced that PCOs in Karnataka would be converted into kiosks that would offer similar services. It had partnered with Intel and ItzCash to set up one e-PCO in each of the state’s 29 districts, iGovernment reported. Each PCO would require an upfront investment of Rs 10,000 in hardware and software and Rs 35,000 for setting up a new e-PCO or scaling up an existing one.

3i Infotech Launches 62 Kiosks

In another e-governance initiative, 3i Infotech has announced that 62 kiosks will be operational in Delhi from today. iGovernment reports that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will be inaugurating one at Ramesh Nagar on Thursday evening in the city. The private company has set up Jeevan citizen service centres across the city to offer government to business (G2B) and government to citizen (G2C) services. The kiosks will help Delhi’s residents pay utility bills, download government forms, applications, obtain birth and death certificates, and even file tax returns.

Other companies that had announced rural kiosk projects include CMS Computers, Zoom Developers, and Reliance Communication.

Related:
SREI Sahaj To Invest Rs 10 Billion On Kiosks; Rural Job Portal Chaakri; Mobile CSCs?
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