Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech proposed a set of measures to aimed to improve internet access in India and grow the digital economy. Among them is the setting up of a national programme to deploy high-speed internet access to villages and created an indigenous test bed for 5G technology.
Bharat Net: Jaitley said that the completion of Phase 1 of Bharat Net is a big step in digital India’s journey and it will now scale it up by providing 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas to provide easy internet access to 5 crore Indians. For this, the government has allocated Rs 10,000 crore under telecom infrastructure.
As many as 250,000 villages got optical fibre connectivity under Bharat Net program, wherein 100,000 gram-panchayats have been connected with high-speed optic fibre network in the first phase of BharatNet, said Jaitley. The government will work towards connecting another 150,000 villages under Bharat Net initiative. Note that Bharat Net was rebranded from its initial name National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) in April 2016.
5G mobile internet: The finance minister also said that the department of telecommunications (DoT) will explore the development of 5G internet technology in India and for this it will set up a test bed at IIT Chennai. The plan for setting up a 5G test bed at IIT Madras was first announced in December 2017 and it is expected to be operational within the next six months.
Digital India: In his speech, the Finance Minister announced the allocation of Rs 3073 crores for the Digital India program. The government he said, plans to invest in research, training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and internet of things. Department of Science & Technology will launch a Mission on Cyber-Physical Systems to support the establishment of centres of excellence.
Just to put the Rs 3073 crore allotment in perspective, Aquaculture farms will be getting an allotment of Rs 10,000 crore.
WiFi on trains: While talking about the railways the finance minister said, all stations and trains will be progressively provided with WiFi internet.