The Government of India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) has been playing a vital role in India’s success story, enabling it to improve its capabilities in various capacities.
The DoT has been assigned the responsibility of formulating developmental policies so that it leads to ensuring accelerated growth of telecommunication services.
It is also responsible for granting licenses for various telecom services like Unified Access Service Internet and VSAT service.
Besides, the DoT has the responsibility for frequency management in radio communication in coordination with international bodies and it enforces wireless regulatory measures by monitoring wireless transmission of all users across the country.
Driven with a vision to ensure a secure, reliable affordable and high quality converged telecommunication services all around at any given time, the DoT aims to ensure accelerated inclusive socioeconomic development.
For enabling the government to not just add an impressive but also a really effective chapter in India’s growth story, the DoT is driven with a mission to develop a robust and secure state-of-the-art telecommunication network. The network will provide seamless coverage with special focus on rural and remote areas for bridging the digital divide and thereby facilitate socio- economic development.
It intends to create an inclusive knowledge society through proliferation of affordable and high quality broadband services across the nation.
We got the approval of the Government for taking undersea fibre cable in Andaman and Nicobar islands which is very futuristic in its approach.
The department has a mission to reposition the mobile device as an instrument of socio-economic empowerment of citizens; make India a global hub for telecom equipment manufacturing; promote development of new standards to meet national requirements; attract investment, both domestic, foreign and promote creation of jobs.
A lot of progress has been made in laying of optical fibres up to the village councils, with BharatNet reaching 68,000 Gram Panchayats in 2016 and mulling over crossing one lakh-target in 2017, said Shashi Ranjan Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, in a special interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN). Excerpts:
How has been 2016 for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)?
It’s been a very good year. We have been able to take many initiatives forward particularly revamping the BharatNet programme. We also completed very difficult project in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states with setting up of over 2,000 mobile towers in a very short span of time. We got the approval of the government for taking undersea fibre cable in Andaman and Nicobar Islands which is very futuristic in its approach.
How do you rate the performance of BharatNet in 2016 and what needs to be done this year?
A lot of progress has been made in the laying of optical fibres up to the Gram Panchayats (GPs). We have reached 68,000 GPs through BharatNet. So this is a huge target we have accomplished.
The basic problem of lighting up the gram panchayats is equipment related. Our earlier vendor was unable to supply. New vendors are in place but supply is just in the beginning phase and due to this it has been delayed a bit.
Have you set any time frame for lighting up of the gram panchayat (village council)?
Our target still remains the same i.e. to reach 1 lakhs GPs (Gram Panchayat) by 2017. Once the supply of equipment becomes stable, it will not take much time.
In terms of Digital India, where do you see the Department of Telecommunications positioning in last one year or so?
There are two main pillars of Digital India. One is BharatNet. The other key thing is to provide mobile connectivity in unconnected areas. We successfully completed a project in 10 LBW affected states. We have approval to cover all the North Eastern states and in the next three months, the work will commence on the ground.
We are planning a project for other Himalayan and Western border states. So lots of projects are in pipeline.
What is your opinion about securing this huge space of data? What are the new initiatives for securing the network in telecommunications department?
The more we digitise, the more we have to invest in digital security. Our security is basically related to securing the network and we are working on it.
What do you expect from the industry in terms of rising participation and holding hands of the government?
Telecommunications is dominated by private players. Once we reach the Gram Panchayats, we plan to take it forward to the consumer and in this process will require assistance from private players. It will be best left to the private sector to cater services to the common man.
What are the challenges you faced last year?
Our biggest challenge is skill. BharatNet is a gigantic project. It is spread all over the country and it is reaching gram panchayats. To manage such a huge project we require skilled people. We are trying to give boost to the local manufacturing. It is a difficult role to manufacture them in India.
What is your vision for 2017?
We plan to take BharatNet forward and the phase-II has to be rolled out. We plan to revamp the BharatNet where we plan to provide one hotspot in GP headquarter. We are trying to provide some connectivity to the people living in vicinity.
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