Digital India to connect all villages says Telecom Secretary

The Centre s flagship programme Digital India has a target to connect all villages through public-private-panchayat-partnership under National Optical Fibre Network
Digital India to connect all villages says Telecom Secretary

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.

“The online magic of Alibaba ‘disrupting’ traditional business models and creating over five million jobs and supporting 20 million jobs,” explained Yao Weimin, Senior VP, Huawei India. Everything from banking to retail businesses were being ‘disrupted’ and reset by this new comer. It was setting a new thinking into vogue where which, who and what are important had become the criteria.

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