60% of targeted village panchayats get broadband connectivity

NEW DELHI: A total of 1,47,463 ( 59.49 % ) out of a total of 2,47,864 village panchayats had been covered with broadband connectivity as in March this year under Bharat Nirman, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sh Milind Deora told the Lok Sabha.

A rural Wire-line Broadband Scheme has been launched under Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to increase broadband penetration in rural and remote areas. Under this scheme, BSNL will provide 8,88,832 wire-line broadband connections to individual users and Government Institutions over a period of five years. As on March 2012, a total of 3,58,978 broadband connections have been provided.

In states like MP, Chattisgarh and NE-II, the achievement of coverage of village panchayats under Bharat Nirman II is low (less than 25%). This is due to inaccessible and difficult terrain and law and order problems in some part of these states.

In its recommendations on National Broadband Plan (NBP), Trai had proposed that a 100 per cent central government-owned holding company, National Optical Fibre Agency (NOFA), be formed. In October 2011, the Government approved the scheme for creation of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), for providing broadband connectivity to 250,000 village Panchayats. The objective of this scheme is to extend the existing optical fiber network to Panchayats by utilising the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF).The project is proposed to be completed in two years.

NOFN project will be executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) - that is Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), a company incorporated under Indian Companies Act 1956, fully owned by Central Government, with equity participation from Government, BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid. The company has been incorporated on 25.2.2012 for this purpose. BBNL is currently working out modalities for implementation of this project.

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