NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Communications has asked Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) to advance the targets for broadband roll out in rural areas, allowing small traders to do transactions and billing based on the Goods and Service Tax (GST).
The directive comes following a meeting with officials from the Finance and Communications Ministries for speedy implementation of GST.
“The rural parts of India cannot be left out. Once GST is implemented, being connected is a prerequisite. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has stressed the issue to the Communications Ministry,” said a senior official. Currently only 13.8 persons out of 100 in rural India have a broadband connection, according to telecom regulator TRAI, as against 45 persons per 100 in South Asia and about 55 person per 100 in other emerging economies like Brazil.
The government, however, needs to invest in broadband infrastructure and ensure its availability to over 600 districts in the country. “There are multiple business communities in and around rural India and a good broadband is prerequisite for smooth GST implementation,” said Anil Khaitan, senior vice president, PHD Chamber. The Centre and the State will have to work jointly to provide a fast, robust and secure broadband networks, he added.
“The current speed of roll out is not going to help. Speed and security are critical, for any government service to reach the rural segment,” pointed out T.V Ramachandran, president, Broadband Forum. Sources in the Finance Ministry also said that officials are closely working with the Department of Information Technology and the Communications Ministry to ensure there is no hurdle.
The challenge is to connect more than two lakh gram panchayats through broadband. “The speed of connecting gram panchayats should match the pace of digital economy that government is attempting to achieve,”said N K Goyal, telecom analysts CMIE.