The Office of Adviser too PM on PIII has been working with various stakeholders on a plan for connecting 250,000 Panchayats in the country to optic fibre based Broadband. Effort is also underway to ensure that this hardware connectivity is supplemented by requisite software that takes into account local requirements, and provision of the right ecosystem at the Panchayats to best leverage the benefits of Broadband connectivity. The vision is to transform governance, service delivery and unleash local innovation capacity through rural broadband.
Government has approved the cabinet note on the Scheme for creation of the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing Broadband connectivity to Panchayats on 25th October 2011. The implementation framework, budget, technology architecture and other issues related to NOFN are being worked out by the High level Committee (HLC) constituted by the Department of Telecom (DoT) under the Chairmanship of Adviser to the PM and Chairman UIDAI (constituted on 26th April 2011). To move the project forward an SPV has been incorporated named ‘Bharat Broadband Network Limited’ (BBNL) which will be the executing agency for the project and will use the capabilities of three prominent telecom PSUs to implement the project. To grant right of way, a draft tripartite MoU (among GoI, the SPV and the State Government) has been sent to the State Governments and Union Territories for their concurrence. Pilots are also being tried in Ajmer, Vishakhapatnam and Goa to test the broadband infrastructure and adoption after being approved by MCIT. Universal Service Obligation Fund (DOT), BBNL, BSNL, Rail Tel, Power Grid and Telecom Players, USPs and content providers, along with State Governments, will work on the Pilot Trials.
Simultaneously, the Office of Adviser is working on applications for rural broadband in collaboration with Ministries of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, HRD, Health and the Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development so that even as hardware connectivity is under progress, applications also get addressed. The office has begun work on applications through a pilot in Ajmer district in Rajasthan and proposes to enlarge this to one district in each State.
As part of building Public Information Infrastructure, effort is underway to closely coordinate with the GIS plan, UIDAI, National Informatics Centre etc. to build relevant platforms, applications and portals (including developing India’s version of Data.gov under the aegis of the Department of Information Technology).
The critical path activities are
- Signing of Tripartite MOU.
- Bid Document Preparation.
Progress in these activities are
- Letters despatched from Secy(T) to Chief Secretaries and from MCIT to Chief Ministers (in 1st week of May). [along with Draft of MOU].
Tripartite MOU signing will now commence depending upon response of State Governments.
- Bid documents of BSNL, Railtel & PGCIL have been analysed. They have to be synthesised.
- Appointment letter for 3 Directors of BBNL to be issued. [Appointment approved by MCIT. Formal clearance of CVC is awaited.].
- MCIT has approved Pilot Trials in 3 locations.
- Ajmer District in Rajasthan (to be done by BSNL)
- Vishakapatnam District in A.P. (to be done by PGCIL)
- Goa (to be done by Rai Ttel).
The Pilot Trials will commence once the Directors of BBNL join. USOF(DOT), BBNL, BSNL, Rail Tel, Power Grid and Telecom Players, USPs and Content Providers along with State Govt. will work on the Pilot Trials.
Trial is expected to begin in June 2012.
For more information read whitepaper on Broadband to Panchayats.