Telecom Lead India: The Union government has received approvals from 10 state governments and 1 union territory for right of way for setting up the Rs 20,000 crore National Optical Fiber Network scheme.
The National Optical Fiber Network, which is expected to be completed by December 2013, will connect 250,000 gram panchayats in the country via broadband.
The ambitious project has the potential to reform India. But there are several challenges. India does not have a strong eco-system for application development for e governance, e medicine, e health, e education, etc.
N Ravi Shankar, administrator of USOF, admitted that the biggest challenge for completing the project as per schedule is getting right of way approvals from state governments. “Though the Internet connectivity to Gram panchayats will be provided through this project for establishing e-governance in their states, they would like to know what will be the benefits by approving right of way.”
Ravi Shankar said the telecom industry needs to focus on the transformational aspects of the project. The best model will be public-private-panchayat partnership for achieving the targets and goals set by the National Telecom Policy 2012.
The government is looking for private participation now.
Earlier, the government could not approve private participation when it floated its special purpose vehicle i.e. Bharat Broadband Network.
The ailing BSNL is a stakeholder in Bharat Broadband Network. Besides the Union Government, other stakeholders are Railtel and Powergrid.
Bharat Broadband Network CEO Ravi Shankar said presently, the pilots are 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.
There is some action at government level for augmenting broadband growth.
Through the USO Fund, the government launched Rural Wireline Broadband
The government will provide subsidy for building wireless broadband
The government has also kicked off Optical Fiber Network Augmentation, Creation and Management of IntraDistrict SDHQ-DHQ OFC Network in Assam, NE-I Circle (Meghalaya, Mizoram & Tripura) and NE-II Circle (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur & Nagaland). These schemes will connect 949 locations in 76 districts of the states of North-Eastern region.