Millennium Post

May use satellites, drones for broadband project: Govt

The government is open to the use of satellite technology, drones or special balloons for providing broadband connectivity to all the gram panchayats under the NOFN project, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday.

"We have to reach every gram panchayat and therefore I am quite open to tweaking the technology of the programme if you can come with concrete suggestions and out technical team can supplement that," Prasad said during the Digital India summit here. The government's ambitious project National Optical Fibre Network aims to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by December 2016. The estimated cost of the project is around Rs 30,000 crore.

"...wherever it is possible, digging will be done, cable would be laid, where its possible if we can supplement by satellite or balloon or drones, we can consider that, if its possible to use the cable in urban areas to give broadband, therefore I am quite open about it," Prasad added. He was responding to the suggestions made by the industry that option of satellite technology should be explored to provide broadband connectivity to the gram panchayats.

The government has set a target of rolling out optical fibre network across 50,000 village panchayat by the end of this financial year, 1 lakh more by March 2016 and another 1 lakh by the end of 2016. Regarding electronic manufacturing, Prasad said foreign companies manufacturing in the country are entitled to all the benefits given by the government.
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