Govt to launch broadband readiness index of states: Sundararajan

telecom-tower-reuters [File] The move to extend payment period for the acquired spectrum will help as the pressures on cash flows will ease | Reuters

The government is planning to launch broadband services readiness index of states based on parameters like infrastructure, approval processes and utilisation of high speed Internet, a top telecom department official said on Sunday.

"According to a study by ICRIER (a research firm), USD 100 billion investment will have seven-fold multiplier effect on GDP. There is a need of a national mission to make this happen. We are going to launch broadband readiness index for states which will be vital for investments," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told PTI.

She said the Ministry of Electronics and IT has also shown interest in states readiness index and want to expand it further.

The telecom ministry will hold first workshop on implementation of the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) which envisages USD 100 billion investment in telecom sector by 2022, broadband connectivity at 50 megabit per second speed to every citizen, telecom connectivity at every corner of India and creating 40 lakh jobs.

"This is first preparatory national workshop on implementation of NDCP in which 25 states have confirmed to participate. Here we will launch National Broadband Mission to achieve objective of broadband for all," Sundararajan said.

Industry leaders and associations will discuss at the NDCP workshop issues they are facing in states especially in rolling out telecom infrastructure which in turn impact investments.

"We want to ensure that 5G is not limited to urban areas. It should reach rural areas. For this, we have to work with states to ensure that there is 100 per cent penetration of optical fibre cables. Without massive OFC penetration, 5G services will not expand. States have to provide smooth right of way permissions," Sundararajan said.

5G networks are said to provide broadband speed of 1 Gbps. Theoretically, a high definition 2-hour video can be downloaded in 5 seconds at this speed.

The telecom secretary said there is a need to increase mobile tower base by three times and OFC rollout by four-folds to achieve 'broadband for all' target under the National Broadband Mission.

"We have to roll out wifi services in rural and urban areas. To deliver benefit of NDCP to people and create jobs, states have to come forward. We will do comparative evaluation of all states and highlight best policies for other states to adopt it," Sundararajan said.

The telecom ministry has floated tender to roll out 10 lakh wifi hotspot across all 2.5 lakh village panchayats.

At present, 1.21 lakh panchayats are ready with broadband services infrastructure. The DoT has awarded task to roll out wifi services in 62,0000 panchayats to Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) and is working with ITI for setting up wifi hotpsots in other panchayats.

"Broadband services have been started in all panchayats covered under Phase 1. Now we are looking at utilisation of broadband where states need to come forward and identify institutions like school, police stations etc that are to be connected with wifi," Sundararajan said.

She said states have to ensure that there is enough electronic equipment available at their institutions to start using BharatNet broadband network for various services like tele-medicine, e-health, e-education etc.

"DoT is working to create state-of-the-art telecom infrastructure in next four years and we want states to draw a road map to start using it. At the workshop, we will work on yearly targets that states need to achieve," Sundararajan said.

She said the telecom ministry will discuss with states usage of broadband for development at aspirational districts, enhancing connectivity in Naxal-affected areas, north eastern states and islands.