Private sector would have a ‘huge’ opportunity in creating the last mile wireless connectivity to villages from the countrywide National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) that would come up by the financial year 2016-17 connecting 250,000 panchayats, said Rakesh Garg, secretary of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Ministry of Communications and Information and Technology at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.
Business opportunity was also evident in providing content in local languages that alone would enthuse the grass roots people to get involved in utilising the connectivity, said Garg, who is also Chairman, Telecom Commission.
‘Digital India’, the Centre’s flagship programme is targeting to reach every single home with broadband access in India.
Detailing what the Digital India programme meant for the common people, Garg asked private sector enterprises to enable village homes to connect to public services in health and education among others through localised content created for the purpose.
“Government had already completed surveys of two lakh villages to create a database of what they required from public services. As for the optical fibre network, more than 50,000 panchayats had already been connected”, said the telecom secretary.
Describing Digital India as a ‘private-public-panchayat partnership (PPPP)’, Ravi Shankar, Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms, Public Grievances and Pensions, said that computer literacy could eliminate illiteracy in the country.
He pointed out how even illiterates were able to manage smartphones. Digital India would create a citizen centric administration conferring empowerment, entitlement and engagement opportunities to all the citizens. The portal like ‘Mygov’ created last month would enable citizens to engage in public affairs and provide inputs to the government.
Last mile connectivity to the villages from the optical fibre network would have to be wireless, said Amit Sharma, EVP and President Asia, American Tower Corporation. He cautioned against wholly unnecessary costs being imposed on this sector by various authorities including state governments and municipalities when the critical factor was to reduce the costs of deployment of the countrywide network.
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