Update: National Broadband Plan

The Indian Government is actively working on formulation of a ‘National Broadband Plan’. According to a statement from Sachin Pilot, minister of state, communications & Information Technology, the National Broadband Plan would address Broadband connectivity to all the villages, including through Optical Fibre Cable, as required. As per the latest data, there are 10.34 million Broadband subscribers in the country. TRAI consultation with stakeholders on the subject, is underway and its recommendations are awaited. However, no final decision has been taken in the matter so far. In order to increase the penetration of Broadband connection, the government has already  alloted spectrum for 3G and BWA services to the private operators through auction. This will facilitate proliferation of broadband through mobile handset and wireless technology, says Pilot. Besides, the government has also permitted sharing of infrastructure to the service providers. “Setting up of 1,00,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) by DIT by 2010 will provide access of broadband.” “The Indian Telegraph Rules have been amended, and stream IV has been added under the title ‘Provision of broadband connectivity to villages in a phased manner’ to bring provisioning of broadband connectivity to the rural areas under the purview of the USOF,” informs Pilot. “USOF schemes for supporting shared infrastructure for mobile services in rural and remote areas. These towers will also be used to provide Broadband connectivity in the newly covered Block/Taluka headquarters.” USOF, through BSNL, has started ‘Rural Wireline Broadband Scheme’ to provide wireline broadband connectivity to rural and remote areas by leveraging the existing rural exchanges infrastructure and copper wireline network. Under this scheme, BSNL will provide 8, 88,832 wireline Broadband connections to individual users and government institutions over a period of 5-years, i.e., by 2014. The estimated subsidy outflow is Rs 1500 crore in 5 years. As of October 2010, a total of 2, 25,266 broadband connections have been provided and 430 kiosks have been set up in rural and remote areas.

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