India’s government has revealed plans to introduce a broadband readiness index for the nation’s states as part of efforts to encourage an additional $100 billion investment in the telecoms sector.
India’s Telecom secretary Aruna Sundarajan told the Press Trust of India that the broadband readiness index will be vital for directing investments aimed at meeting the National Broadband Mission.
According to Ms. Sundarajan, there is a pressing need to increase the number of mobile base stations by three times and expand optical fiber rollouts by four times in order to meet the target of providing broadband for all.
India Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, – File photo
“According to a study by ICRIER (a research firm), USD 100 billion investment will have seven-fold multiplier effect on GDP. There is a need of a national mission to make this happen. We are going to launch broadband readiness index for states which will be vital for investments,” Sundararajan told PTI. She said the Ministry of Electronics and IT has also shown interest in states readiness index and want to expand it further.
The telecom ministry will hold first workshop on implementation of the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) which envisions US $100 billion investment in telecom sector by 2022, broadband connectivity at 50 megabit per second speed to every citizen, telecom connectivity at every corner of India and creating 40 lakh jobs.
“This is first preparatory national workshop on implementation of NDCP in which 25 states have confirmed to participate. Here we will launch National Broadband Mission to achieve objective of broadband for all,” Sundararajan said.
Industry leaders and associations will discuss at the NDCP workshop issues they are facing in states especially in rolling out telecom infrastructure which in turn impact investments.
“We want to ensure that 5G is not limited to urban areas. It should reach rural areas. For this, we have to work with states to ensure that there is 100 per cent penetration of optical fibre cables. Without massive OFC penetration, 5G services will not expand. States have to provide smooth right of way permissions,” Sundararajan added.
As part of the India government’s National Digital Communications Policy, the government aims to ensure all citizens have access to 50Mbps broadband by 2022. The initiative also envisions the creation of 5 million new jobs.
Sundarajan added that the government is eager to ensure that 5G is not limited to early areas, but extends to rural areas as well. To achieve this the government wants to work with states to ensure 100% penetration of fiber.
“We have to roll out Wi-Fi services in rural and urban areas. To deliver benefit of NDCP to people and create jobs, states have to come forward. We will do comparative evaluation of all states and highlight best policies for other states to adopt it,” Sundararajan said.
The DoT has awarded task to roll out wifi services in 62,0000 panchayats to Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) and is working with ITI for setting up wifi hotpsots in other panchayats.
“Broadband services have been started in all panchayats covered under Phase one. Now we are looking at utilisation of broadband where states need to come forward and identify institutions like school, police stations etc that are to be connected with wifi,” Sundararajan said.
Meanwhile, the telecom ministry has launched a tender to roll out 1 million W-Fi hotspots across all 250,000 village panchayats (local government areas) in the nation. The government is encouraging states to identify institutions that are to be connected with Wi-Fi, such as schools and police stations.