Policy makers Meet, Discuss National Broadband Plan and Bringing ICT Connectivity in Villages

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Kapil Sibal

The meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was held to discuss the National Broadband Plan of Department of Telecommunications. The meeting was chaired by Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology. Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora, the Ministers of State for Communications and IT were also present in the meeting. Revati Raman Singh, Balbir Punj, Sushila Thapa, Sanjeev Nayak, Vinay Pandey, P.K. Biju and Sanjay Nirupam, MPs who are members of the Consultative Committee attended the meeting.

In the meeting, Kapil Sibal emphasized on the urgent need for a nationwide broadband network to enable e-education, e-healthcare, e-banking, e-agriculture and other services to reach all villages electronically at affordable cost. Such a network would truly help in realizing the objective of inclusive growth, the Minister added.

The Minister, however, expressed concern that despite the known benefits of broadband, India had just 12.32 million broadband connections in the country at the end of June 2011 as against the target of 20 million broadband subscribers by 2010, set by the Broadband Policy 2004. The net broadband addition per month is just 0.2 to 0.3 million in contrast to around 18 million mobile connections per month. As per TRAI the total number of broadband connections is expected to be 75 million by 2012 and 160 million by 2014.

Provision of Broadband in rural and remote areas will also help in providing “digital opportunities” and the widespread adoption of broadband in rural areas will have a multiplier effect cutting across various sectors of the government over the long-term. It will help create employment and improve productivity in rural areas, help overcome the constraints of an inadequate transport infrastructure and overall improve the quality of life in rural areas. Given the significant economic and social benefits, expanding affordable access to broadband is already a high priority for the Government.

The Minister informed the Committee that the Government, through USOF has formulated various schemes for Broadband which are:

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