NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday launched the much awaited National Broadband Mission (NBM) to take broadband internet access to all of India’s villages by 2022.
The NBM had first been announced in the National Telecom Policy of 2018 and officials say that mission could entail a total investment of `7 lakh crore from stakeholders over the course of its implementation.
“By 2022, we will take broadband to all the villages of India,” said telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad during the launch, adding that the initiative will result in the near doubling of the number of telecom towers in the country, from about 5.65 lakh to 10 lakh.
According to the Centre, the NBM will facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas.
It will also aim to lay down an incremental 30 lakh kilometre of optical fiber cables (OFC) and increase tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per 1,000 persons by 2024.
“We will also take the speeds up to 50 Mbps is a phased manner,” Prasad said, adding that it will enable strengthening of technological infrastructure for education, health, entrepreneurship and development.
The initiative also seeks to increase the process of fiberisation, taking the portion of OFCfed telecom towers from 30 per cent at present to 70 per cent. According to officials, of the `7 lakh crore of investment required, around `70,000 crore will come from the Universal Service Obligation Fund.
Prasad said the Centre will work with states and UTs to ensure consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure, including for Right of Way approvals for laying optical fibre cable. The NBM will also see creation of a Broadband Readiness Index to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure.