Gujarat (India) to Connect All Villages via Satellite

Gujarat will be the first state in India to provide high-speed connectivity through satellite-based data connections to all its 13,693 gram panchayats by July this year, enabling video, voice and data offerings in the areas of e-Governance, distance education, telemedicine, agriculture and interactive advisory and counselling services. Each panchayat will have its own email address and more than 13,000 of them will be hosted on the state owned data centre.

The project will be connected through very small aperture terminals (VSATs), which bounce data signals from one location to another via satellites, routing these signals through small dish antennas. The project will cost INR 2000-3000 million, a senior Gujarat government official said. “While a majority of the funds come from the state government, some capacity of between INR 200 million to INR 250 million comes from the Central government,” said Varesh Sinha, principal secretary of panchayats in the state. The build-operate-transfer project, announced by the state government in September, Bharti Airtel Ltd, which also runs a broadband business, as the implementing agency. Bharti Airtel, which began work on the project in January, plans to connect the panchayats with broadband connectivity at speeds of 2mbps. “One of the best things about Gujarat is that there is a lot of great digitisation that has happened in the state than anywhere else. This will be further fuelled by the panchayat connectivity,” said T.R. Madan Mohan, Managing Partner at management consultancy firm Browne and Mohan.