New Delhi: The Government is expected to
connect five lakh villages with the internet broadband services under the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) in
next two years.
"We have setup a high powered committee, Sam Pitroda is
heading the committee, co-chaired by Nandan Nilekani. I am
told by Sam Pitroda that he will try and implement the policy
within next two years (by 2013)," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal
Government earlier had proposed creating a NOFN for
providing broadband connectivity to the rural areas initially
upto the panchayats.
Last year, telecom regulator Trai had floated a
consultation paper suggesting that optical fibre should be
laid to connect 3.75 lakh villages having a population of 500
The project could be funded by the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for non-skilled
work and from the Universal Services Obligation Fund for
material and equipment.
On allowing state-run BSNL the right to execute the
National Broadband Plan (NBP), Sibal said:"These are policy
issues and it is not that the private sector is excluded
from this. It is for the private sector to use this network.
It is ultimately private sector that will ride on this
The minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines
of a Fibre to Home (FTTH) conference.
The optical fibre network would help various service
providers and users get broadband through a variety of wired
and wireless solutions. Till now, the broadband facility has
been limited to metros and major cities.
There were nine million broadband subscribers at the end
of April, 2010, of which a mere five per cent were in rural
areas. The government had set a target of 20 million broadband
subscribers by 2010 as part of the Broadband Policy 2004.