The Indian government on Thursday announced Rs 10,000 crore outlay for the 2018-19 fiscal for the expansion of telecom infrastructure under various government projects, including BharatNet project. The fund will also be used to set up 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots to provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said during his Union Budget 2018 speed today.
"I have provided Rs 10,000 crore in 2018-19 for creation and augmentation of this telecom infrastructure...The task of connecting 1 lakh gram panchayats with high-speed optic fibre network has been completed under Phase 1 of Bharat Net program. The government also proposed to set up 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens," Jaitley said.
Under the Bharat Net project, the Indian government is aiming to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by March 2019, having finished the first phase of the project.
In addition, the finance minister also said that the telecom department is supporting the establishment of indigenous 5G centres with IIT Chennai. These centers will develop 5G technology use cases.
Jaitley has also announced allocation Rs 3,073 crore for the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to push adoption and development of new digital technologies in the country like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT) and 3D printing.
"To invest in research training, and skilling in robotics, AI, digital manufacturing, big data intelligence, quantum communications and art of the things, the DST will launch a mission on cyberspace in support of the establishment of a centre of excellence. I have doubled their allocation on the digital India program to Rs 3,073 crore in 2018-19," Jaitley said during his speed. "Initiatives such as Digital India, start-up India, Make in India would help to establish itself as knowledge and digital society."
“Indian economy is now 2.5 trillion dollar economy in the world and expected to become the fifth largest economy very soon. IMF has projected India will grow at 7.4% next year. We are set to achieve high growth,” he said.
He added that the Niti Ayog would establish a national programme to direct our efforts in the area of AI including research, and development of its applications.