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Broadband Connectivity: A Challenge Under Work

India will see an increase in adoption of 4 G services with number of 4 G connections estimated to grow to 280 million by 2020 from just 3 million in 2015

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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On May 17, all members of the International Telecommunications Union or ITU celebrate the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day. ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies.

In India, the central government has actively taken up the challenge of connecting every village panchayat with broadbrand (high speed internet connection with speeds exceeding 512 kilo bytes per second). The programme is being driven under the BharatNet programme. The exact mandate is to connect all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats (over 600 million rural citizens) in the country with 100 mbps broadband. Also, this will bridge the rural coverage gap both for broadband penetration and voice.

This year, the Broadband India Forum (BIF), a body that promotes broadband via satellite and telecom sector has urged the government to facilitate the joint working of the department of telecommunications (DoT), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Department of Space (DoS) for the active use of commercial satellite-based high speed broadband connectivity in remote and rural parts of India. According to T V Ramachandran, President, BIF, the satellite operations fall under DoS but broadband and telecommunication connectivity is the responsibility of DoT and TRAI. ''If all three arms of the government work together, we can roll out high-speed bradband very fast", he said.

BIF is now asking the government to allow the players to tap into the unused broadband capacity available with foreign satellite operators whose satellites are placed over the Indian sub-continent. “We don't need a change in policy, even the 1997 policy permits that. The procedures and processes have to facilitate implementation of Open Sky Policy in letter and spirit,” Ramachandran was quoted by a business daily. According to Ramachandran, at least 10 GBps of bandwidth capacity is going waste over India from international satellites.

Rural Broadband Responsibility
The rollout of high speed broadband in rural areas is dependent on BharatNet, also known earlier as the National Optical Fibre Network. But the project has been behind schedule. However, TRAI has recently moved its recommendation on ‘Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi. Experts say these steps will go a long way in boosting broadband penetration in India, which is at 18 per cent. BIF says it agrees with TRAI's move to decentralise the internet service sector. BIF is batting for opening the sector for smaller players by simplifying the registration process.

The BharatNet project is being implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited, (BBNL), the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created by Govt. of India for this purpose, with the actual execution being done by its partners viz. BSNL, PGCIL and Railtel for phase-1. BharatNet will support e-governance services, telemedicine, tele-education, financial services, e-commerce and e-entertainment and hence be benefitted to all the people in the remote areas. This would open up new avenues for access service providers like mobile operators, cable TV Operators etc. to launch next generation services, and spur creation of local employment opportunities encompassing e-commerce, IT outsourcing etc. as well as services such as e-banking, e-health and e-education for inclusive growth. This will also enable delivery of various services such as local planning, management, monitoring and payments under Government schemes at panchayat level.

Pushing e-Governance
On the eve of World Telecommunications Day, it is pertinent to recall the push to e-governance by the Prime Minister across various forums. The implementation of e-Governance projects like MyGov platform, Jeevan Pramaan, Wi-Fi Hotspots, BPOs in rural areas, e-commerce through post offices etc is just the start of silent electronic revolution,'' a senior official said. We must, at this juncture, appreciate the effors of the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) that has recently taken several policy initiatives in the e-Governance domain including e-Kranti, Open Source Software, Open APIs, E-mail Policy, Use of IT Resources and Re-Engineering for Cloud Ready Applications. During the last three years of the present government, the DoT took several initiatives to reach out to the common people and provide services at affordable cost. Government envisaged One Nation - Full Mobile Number Portability (MNP) w.e.f July, 2015. In order to enable citizen to access internet, the government planned and installed 2500 WiFi Hotspots.

So far BSNL has covered various important tourist places and prominent cities like Taj Mahal-Agra, Hussain Sagar Lake & Charminar -Hyderabad, Sarnath-Varanasi, Sun Temple-Konark, Brihadeshwar Temple-Thanjavur, Hampi- Karnataka, Khajuraho, Jagnnath Temple-Puri, Nasik, Bangalore, Vijaywada, Bilarpur etc with WiFi Hotspots.

As of November-end 2016, the domestic mobile industry is contributing 6.5 per cent (USD 140 billion) to country’s GDP, and was employing over 4 million people (direct and indirect). By 2020 , the industry is expected to contribute 8.2 per cent to country’s GDP, and add 800,000 more jobs. In terms of unique mobile phone subscribers, India is expected to cross the 1 billion mark by 2020. India will see an increase in adoption of 4 G services with number of 4 G connections estimated to grow to 280 million by 2020 from just 3 million in 2015.




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