Department of Telecommunications (DOT) , Government of India will soon connect 5000 blocks in the country by wireless broadband soon after allocation of spectrum through the proposed e- auction later this year. This will be done with support from DOT’s Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). Villages coming within a radius of 10 Kms of the Taluka/Block headquarters shall be covered by such connectivity.
An estimated 40 institutional users will benefit from the wireless broadband given to each Block. These include schools, public health centers, village Panchayats and the Community Service Centers (CSCs) meant to provide e-governance and data services to the rural areas. The detailed guidelines for spectrum auction were announced by the Ministry of Communications and IT early last month and the process is likely to be completed this year. DOT has already initiated action for selecting an agency to conduct the e-auction.
For meeting its wireless broadband plan, DOT has held discussions with technology providers, Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to formalize the modalities of tender procedures, specification/deliverable formulation and bench mark settings. The scheme envisages that the TSPs may utilise the existing passive and core infrastructure available with them. Consultants for the purpose have already been appointed. Requirements of the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and other user ministries such HRD, Health, Panchayati Raj, MHA are being firmed up so that block-wise villages can be prioritised and requisite infrastructure be kept ready.
One thousand out of around 6000 Blocks in the country are now being provided Broadband Services by the state owned BSNL. Similarly, about 50000 out of a proposed 1 lakh Common Service Centres are being covered by BSNL Broadband. DOT’s new initiative is likely to cover the remaining Blocks and all the CSCs. Besides, DOT also proposes to support Wireline Broadband by USOF wherever feasible.
Provision of Broadband connectivity in a phased manner in villages is one of the assigned activities of the USOF. DOT utilises the Fund also for operation and maintenance of Village Public Telephones, provision of household telephones in rural and remote areas and creation of general telecom infrastructure as well as special infrastructure for mobile services in rural areas.