The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has formed an eight-member expert committee to oversee the implementation of the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) project to accelerate the project and connect all gram panchayats by December 2016.
The NOFN project was approved by the cabinet in October 2011. It was expected to be completed within two years. Then, the project cost was estimated to be Rs 20,000 crore, which has now escalated to Rs 35,000 crores, said a senior official in the department of telecommunications.
The target is to provide connectivity to all the 250,000 gram panchayats in India by December 2016, by using the existing optical fibre and extending it to the all the gram panchayats.
The committee comprises J Satyanarayana, former secretary, DeitY; Kiran Karnik, former president, NASSCOM; Som Mittal, former president, NASSCOM; Rajat Moona, Director, CDAC New Delhi; Prof S Sadagopan, Director, IIIT Bangalore; Anil Bhargava, member – Incharge (Technology), DoT; Aruna Sundararajan, Administrator, USO Fund; and V Umashankar, joint secretary, DoT.
The committee will recommend suitable technology options for faster implementation of the project. It will also assess relevant business models for effective use of bandwidth created under NOFN.
The second phase involves connectivity mainly in northern states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand for about 100,000 gram panchayats. The new committee will consult with state governments, industry and other stakeholders on suitable technology options, relevant business model and timely implementation of a project.
The government is already in the process of implementing the first phase of connecting 50,000 gram panchayats, which is expected to be over by the end this year, the official said. This will be done in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, the North East and Maharashtra. Once implemented, NOFN will provide 100 Mbps (megabit per second) bandwidth to facilitate broadband services.
The committee will also suggest measures for augmenting the current design and architecture of the project in line with the vision and objectives of digital India.
The new committee will recommend suitable technology options for fast track and cost effective implementation. On January 12, the minister of communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the launch of the project in the Idukki district of Kerala. Also, Kerala will be the first state to be fully connected through NOFN by the end of March this year.