To provide broadband connectivity at the gram panchayat level, the government has decided to set up a national optical fibre network (NOFN).
Bharat Broadband Network (BBNL), a firm created specifically for implementing this project, will lay close to 5 lakh km of cable and connect 2,50,000 gram panchayats at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore.
An essential part of the government’s e-governance initiative, it is believed the fibre network would provide economic benefits such as additional employment and help deliver initiatives such as e-health, e-banking and e-education.
However, the lack of a proper plan to utilise the network is evident. To ensure proper utilisation, the government has setup a coordination committee consisting of secretaries of various departments such as telecom, IT, panchayati raj and others.
Telecom secretary R Chandrashekhar specified 2014 as the deadline for completion of the project at the recently concluded World Education Summit, held in New Delhi.
The massive project has the private industry eager to participate.