Minister for Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has commissioned the first high-speed rural broadband of India at the Idukki district in Kerala. He called the project a "giant leap" to bridge the digital divide in the country.
Speaking at the inauguration at the Technopark campus, Prasad said the country was witnessing "a new era of digital empowerment" and his government "has firmly set its focus on the all round development and inclusive growth of the country".
On this occasion, the Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy, Minister for Industry and IT, Govt. of Kerala P. K. Kunhalikutty and Secretary Telecom Rakesh Garg were present.
"India is still predominantly rural. Seven out of every ten Indians live in villages. We need to integrate our villages in our digital march that is currently being enjoyed only by those in the urban communities. We will be closely working with the central government and hope to achieve the target by March 2015 and become the first state in the country to do so," said the Chief Minister.
With the commissioning of the NOFN network, Idukki district of Kerala has become the first in India to be connected with high-speed rural broadband. Currently, the district has a total of eight block offices and 53 gram panchayats which are connected on optical fibre and one gram panchayat, namely Edamalakudy, is connected through VSAT.
Edamalakudy is a tribal gram panchayat consisting of 26 tribal villages with a population of around 2200. It is remotely located around 18 Kms from Pettimudi. BSNL has made efforts in connecting this gram panchayat and now broadband Internet as well as mobile services are available over here. For the first time the villages under this panchayat would be connected through mobile phones and internet.
The establishment of NOFN would open up new avenues for access service providers such as telecom service providers, internet service providers, and cable TV operators, etc. to launch next generation services and spur creation of local employment opportunities in a big way.