Govt approves optic fibre programme to link pandchayats

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Commission today approved a Scheme for creation of National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing Broadband connectivity to Panchayats to extend – in the first phase - the existing optical fiber network which extends up to districts HQ’s/Block HQ’s level up to the Gram Panchayat level by utilizing Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) .

“The cost of the initial phase of the NOFN scheme is likely to be in the region of Rs 200 billion. A similar amount of investment is likely to be made by the private sector complementing the NOFN infrastructure while providing services to individual users, Communication and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said.
The proposal will now be placed before the Union Cabinet for approval.

A High Level Committee (HLC) to steer and coordinate all activities related to the creation and implementation of NOFN was earlier constituted by DOT on 26 April 2011 under the Co-Chairmanship of Sam Pitroda, Adviser to PM on Public Information, Infrastructure and Innovation and Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI. The HLC has already held 3 meetings and has initiated steps to put the implementation on a fast track. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will assume the responsibility for execution of the project after approval of the scheme by the cabinet.

The SPV will be finally owned by the Government/USOF. The BSNL has been entrusted with the task of undertaking the preparatory activity for project execution and establishment of the SPV. 
An advisory body to advise on implementation issues and upstream & downstream integration as well as on issues relating to non-discriminatory access of NOFN to service providers had also been set up earlier under the Chairmanship of the Minister on 26 April 2011 by DOT .The advisory body includes the representatives from TSP’s and the private sector.

In economic terms, the benefits from the scheme are expected through additional employment, e-education, e-health, e-agriculture etc. and reduction in migration of rural population to urban areas. As per a study conducted by World Bank, with every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration, there is an increase in GDP growth by 1.4 per cent. It will also facilitate the Government to implement its various e-governance initiatives such as e-health, e-banking, e-education etc. thereby facilitating inclusive growth.

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