The government said that all villages in the country will have broadband access by 2022, as it launched the ambitious National Broadband Mission entailing stakeholder investment of Rs 7 lakh crore in the next three to four years. The mission will facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas. It also involves laying of incremental 30 lakh route km of optical fibre cable and increasing tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per thousand population by 2024.
The National Broadband mission unveiled by the Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will also aim at significantly improving the quality of mobile and internet services in the country. “By 2022, we will take broadband to all the villages of India… The number of towers in the country, which is about 5.65 lakh, will be increased to 10 lakh,” Prasad said. The mission also envisages increasing fiberisation of towers to 70% from 30% at present, he added.
The mission will enable strengthening of technological infrastructure for education, health, entrepreneurship and development, he said. “We will also take the speeds up to 50 Mbps in a phased manner,” Prasad said while seeking full support of the states for the mission. The mission will envisage stakeholder investment of $100 billion (Rs 7 lakh crore) including Rs 70,000 crore from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) in the coming years.
The broadband mission aims to fast-track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion, and provide affordable and universal access of broadband to all.
It will lay emphasis on universality, affordability and quality of services. The Centre will work with the states and UTs for having consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure, including for Right of Way (RoW) approvals required for laying of optical fibre cable.
The mission also involves the development of a Broadband Readiness Index to measure the availability of digital communication infrastructure and foster conducive policy ecosystem within a state/UT. It will also strive for the creation of a digital fibre map of the communications network and infrastructure, including optical fibre cables and towers across the country.