Considering the optical fibre network as the backbone of the telecom sector, the government has reached it out to 25,000 villages in the last one year and aims to reach to another 55,000 villages in the next 4-5 years. This information was given by Rakesh Garg, Chairman, Telecom Commission & Secretary, DoT, Ministry of Communications & IT, Govt of India while addressing the CII Telecom Convergence Summit in New Delhi today.
“We have also created an exclusive plan for reaching out the mobile connectivity to the Himalayan states like Uttarakhand, Himachal, Jammu & Kashmir etc and the remote villages across the hilly states and the North east region, with 2,000 towers already put up and another 3,000 to be put up soon. A special financial package has been allocated for the same,” Garg added.
He also announced that “We have decided to allow private players freedom to spread their own optical fibre from the Block level to the various districts and then the villages where there are not more than two private players to make the system more robust. As against this, in the earlier practice, the private player did not have a choice and had to just get connectivity from the nearest point of purchase to the village. The new system will help the private players provide end to end connectivity services to consumers in villages. To attain this, we have also increased our expected spending from Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 75,000 crores”.
“There is immense potential for the industry under Digital India programme, which envisages various projects worth about Rs 1 lakh crore to transform the country into a digitally empowered and connected knowledge economy by providing high speed Internet @ 100 mbps at all 2.5 lakh gram panchayat level, on demand availability of government services like health and education and digital literacy of citizens. To enable this, we need to integrate both fibre and tower operations. said Umang Das, Chairman, CII Telecom Convergence Summit & Chief Mentor - Viom Networks Ltd & Vice Chairman, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association.
“Fibre network should be spread across till towers and the towers in turn lead to last mile connectivity, because in India, mobile network is strong as compared to other countries where landline is strong. CII would work with the government and figure out where the Indian ICT industry can help in implementing this vision of a digital India,” Das further said.
Speaking on the occasion, Shree Parthasarathy, Senior Director, Deloitte said, “Lack of telecom infrastructure in semi-rural and rural areas is one of the major hindrances in tapping the huge rural potential market, going forward. The service providers have to incur a huge initial fixed cost to enter rural service areas.”
“Further, as many rural areas in India lack basic infrastructure such as road and power, developing telecom infrastructure in these areas involve greater logistical risks and also extend the time taken to roll out telecom services. The lack of trained personnel in the rural area to operate and maintain the cellular infrastructure, especially passive infrastructure such as towers, is also seen as a hurdle for extending telecom services to the under penetrated rural areas, Parthasarathy further added.