The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) signed an MoU on July 16 to develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) for all states and UTs; this index was recommended in the National Digital Communication Policy 2018 (appended below) by the DoT. It will appraise the status of digital infrastructure in all states so they can better invest in technology. The NDCP 2018 had recommended “creating a Broadband Readiness Index for States/UTs to attract investments and address RoW [right of way] challenges”. The first BRI will be released in 2019, and subsequently every year until 2022.

The methodology developed as a part of this research will be adapted and used on an annual basis for systematic evaluation of state-performance on metrics set out as the goals for 2022 under the new policy. As a result, ranking and understanding State/UT performance over time will be an important part of the exercise.

Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Union Minister of State for HRD, Communications, and Electronics and IT; Aruna Sundarajan, Chairperson Digital Communications Commission, and Secretary, DoT; Amit Yadav, Joint Secretary, DoT; and Rajat Kathuria and Geetha Nair from ICRIER were present at the signing. BRI will be carried out by state governments and industry associations such as Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Components of the BRI

BRI consists of two parts:

Part I: focus on infrastructure based on measurement of nine proposed parameters:

  1. Availability of State Policy on RoW and Towers (based on DoT RoW Rules 2016)
  2. Percentage of RoW cases given permission within 60 days of the first application
  3. Availability of a centralised IT Portal for RoW clearances across all lovernment land and building owning authorities
  4. Adoption of the National Building Code 2016 by the state
    1. State policy to have enabling provisions for access to government lands and buildings for installation of telecom towers
    2. State policy to have enabling provision for 24X7 telecom operations
    3. Standardised RFP template for smart city implementation — enabling rules promoting non-exclusivity and infrastructure sharing in a non-discriminatory manner
    4. Common duct policy based on the central government’s “Dig Once Policy”
  5. Percentage of mobile towers connected with fibre
  6. Number of fibre kms per km2 per capita per 100 households
  7. Percentage of public institutions/offices connected by FTTX (hospitals including PHCs, police stations, schools and CSCs)
  8. Percentage of towers receiving grid supply (duration: urban 20 hours; rural 12 hours)
    1. Priority electricity connection available to telecom towers in the state
    2. Supply of electricity at affordable/industrial rates to telecom towers
  9. NagarNet — number of public Wi-Fi hotspots in urban areas
    JanWiFi — number of public Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas

Part II: Demand side parameters captured through primary surveys. Includes indicators such as:

  • Percentage of households using computers/laptops with internet connection,
  • Percentage of households with fixed broadband connection,
  • Internet users as a percentage of the population,
  • Density of smartphones,
  • Percentage of households with at least one digitally literate member, etc.