Government Wants Broadband to Be Available as a Utility, Like Electricity and Water

by September 30, 2016 0 comments

In a high powered closed door round-table of broadband stake holders in India, Manoj Sinha, Indian telecom minister, categorically stated that it is the intent of the present NDA government that high quality high speed broadband is available in every nook and corner of the country. Organised by CyberMedia and Voice&Data magazine, the more than 120 minute long session included, besides the minsiter, JS Deepak, telecom secretary; Dr Anand Agarwal, CEO, Sterlite Technologies; Rajan Mathews, DG, COAI; Dr Arvind Gupta, Head of IT Cell, BJP; RK Bahuguna, CMD, Railtel; Prof Abhay Karandikar, IIT Bombay; Arun Seth, Board Memeber, Narayan Hrudayalaya; Arpita Pal, Telecom Leader, PwC; Hemant Joshi, TMT Leader, Deloitte; among others. The speakers represented the government, telecom industry – domestic and international, user companies, and academia to identify the challenges and explore ways & means of taking the India broadband scenario to the next level, and outline interventions required.

In his address, JS Deepak, said “After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the vision of Digital India as an umbrella platform to transform India, one of the five pillars of the Digital India program is Broadband Highways which covers three key components – Broadband for All – Rural, Broadband for All – Urban, and National Information Infrastructure. Furthermore the smart city program of the Prime Minister also stresses upon the need of digital connectivity for its citizens. Broadband Highways will deliver healthcare, education, e-commerce, agriculture, banking, governance to the nation.”  Ever since the government has set up an ambitious target of 600 mn broadband subscribers by 2020 (as against 151 mn subscribers today), it is essential that a thriving broadband eco-system speaking in one voice and moving along a well-defined road-map comes up.
This transformation can be achieved by focusing on “Broadband as a Utility”, said Dr Agarwal. Several developed countries have already moved along this path. The Indian Government is seriously contemplating giving broadband the status of as a ‘basic utility’ for its citizens similar to electricity, water and gas.

Some of the issues discussed in the round tale included broadband as a driver for GDP boost, regulatory and Policy interventions required,best practices adopted by other countries, building up the delivery infrastructure, and City/Municipality/Block/Panchayat level reforms required

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