Government launches National Broadband Mission

The government on Tuesday promised broadband access in all villages by 2022, as it launched the ambitious National Broadband Mission entailing stakeholder investment of Rs 7 lakh crore in the coming years. The mission will facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas. It also involves laying of incremental 30 lakh route km of Optical Fiber Cable and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per thousand of population by 2024.

The mission unveiled by Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will also aim at significantly improving quality of services for mobile and internet.

„By 2022, we will take broadband to all the villages of India…The number of towers in the country which is about 5.65 lakh will be increased to 10 lakh,“ Prasad said.

The mission also envisages increasing fiberisation of towers to 70 per cent from 30 per cent at present, he added.

The mission will enable strengthening of technological infrastructure for education, health, entrepreneurship and development, he said.

„We will also take the speeds up to 50 Mbps is a phased manner,“ Prasad promised.

He urged the states to extend full support to the mission, to take benefits of technology (fuelled by high speed connectivity) to people.

The mission will envisage stakeholder investment of USD 100 billion (Rs 7 lakh crore) including Rs 70,000 crore from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) in coming years.

Overall, the broadband mission aims to fast-track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion, and provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all. It will lay emphasis on universality, affordability and quality of services.

The centre will work with states and UTs for having consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure including for Right of Way (RoW) approvals required for laying of optical fibre cable.

The mission also involves Development of Broadband Readiness Index to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure, and foster conducive policy ecosystem within a State/UT.

It will also strive for creation of a digital fiber map of the communications network and infrastructure, including Optical Fiber Cables and Towers, across the country.

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