Govt Mulling Open WiFi Hotspots Across 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats to Bridging the Digital Divide

By February 19th, 2014 AT 5:19 PM

In a bid to bridging the digital divide, Government of India is now looking to set- up high-speed wireless Internet hotspots using WiFi technology across 2,50,000  village – Gram Panchayats, expanding the scope of the ongoing national optical fibre roll out project.

Internet - Broadband

Chairman Telecom Commission and Secretary DoT, Mr. M.F. Farooqui said today that an affordable broadband, relevant content and enabling regulations are required to foster the broadband transformation.

Farooqui also said that while Ministry of Communications & IT is taking care of CAPEX for NOFN deployment, the Ministry of Rural Development will drive the OPEX for rural roll out broadband ecosystem. He emphasized the need of bridging the need for digital divide and shared the plans of building 2,50,000 gram panchayats as Wifi hotspots that will generate demand, local language applications and will bring disruptive level change in the way local entrepreneurship will drive adoption of broadband.

Speaking at the CII Broadband Summit 2014, Secretary-Telecom recognized the challenges in Broadband adoption, specifically in rural areas. He invited Industry to suggest and participate in developing the right models to fully leverage the NOFN infrastructure.

He also suggested that the dated Indian Telegraph Act of 1875 needs to be replaced by a fresh Act to recognize the current and future developments in technology and telecom. On CII request of reduction of spectrum usage charges, he hinted at a gradual reduction of the spectrum charges over next few years. He said that auction is one of the way of acquiring spectrum.

Mr. N Ravi Shankar, Special Secretary and Administrator, USO Fund, DoT & CMD, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) said that the speed thrills, but absence of speed kills the drive in case of broadband adoption. He added that connecting societies in rural areas will require partnership at public, private and panchayat level.

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