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Telecom panel gives nod to Rs 20,000-cr broadband network

The Hindu Business Line:  July 25, 2011

New Delhi: The Telecom Commission has given its approval to the proposed national optical fibre network (NOFN) for offering broadband services in rural areas.

The network, to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore, will connect all the gram panchayats. The project will be funded by the Universal Services Obligation Fund.

Optical fibre network

“The objective of the scheme is to extend initially the existing optical fibre network from districts HQ's/Block HQ's level up to the gram panchayat level by utilising Universal Service Obligation Fund. The cost of the initial phase of the NOFN scheme is likely to be in the region of Rs 20,000 crore. Similar amount of investment is likely to be made by private sector complementing the NOFN infrastructure while providing services to individual users,” Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister for Communications and IT said. The proposal will now be placed before the Union Cabinet for final approval.

A High-Level Committee (HLC) to steer and coordinate all activities related to the creation and implementation of NOFN was earlier constituted by the DoT under the Co-Chairmanship of Mr Sam Pitroda, Adviser to PM on Public Information, Infrastructure and Innovation and Mr Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI. The HLC has already held three meetings and initiated steps to put the implementation on a fast track. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will assume the responsibility for execution of the project after approval of the scheme by the Cabinet.

The SPV will be finally owned by the Government/USOF. State-owned BSNL has been entrusted with the task of undertaking the preparatory activity for project execution and establishment of the SPV.

Implementation issues

An advisory body to advice on implementation issues as well as on issues relating to non-discriminatory access of NOFN to service providers had also been setup earlier.

“In economic terms, the benefits from the scheme are expected through additional employment, e-education, e-health, e-agriculture etc. and reduction in migration of rural population to urban areas. It will also facilitate the Government to implement its various e-governance initiatives such as e-health, e-banking, and e-education thereby facilitating inclusive growth,” Mr Sibal said.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.