Narendra Modi govt promises broadband facility in every village

The Centre today promised to extend the broadband facility to every village in the country with the active cooperation of state governments.

Telecommunication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said more than 1.34 lakh internet enabled centres have been set up in rural areas to promote and develop information technology in rural areas of the country.

“Our government is committed to expand the information technology to every village in the country… State governments have to be on-board in our initiative. Involvement of state governments are very important. Both Central and state governments have to work together,” he said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

Prasad said bandwidth is not available in many areas in the country and the Central government is trying to improve the situation.

The Minister assured the House that he will give direction to the IT officials to ensure that the broadband facility is available in priority areas, like issuing caste certificate, in panchayat offices.

Prasad said the situation of IT enabled services is better where the Panchayat is headed by a woman.

The Minister said government is aware that regional language barriers have impeded the e-governance initiatives in rural India.

India, he said, being a multilingual country with 22 official languages, less than 10 per cent of the people in the country can read and write English.

“There are various issues regarding Indian languages such as orthography (spelling issues), pronunciation, one script for many languages and many languages with one script etc,” he said.

Prasad said mobile web in regional languages also has many challenges such as character encoding, bandwidth cost, presentation issues, device limitations, lack of stndardisation, fonts, backward compatibility with legacy devices, rendering issues, lack of availability for all characters, issue of multiple scripts, standardization of glyph support, syllable composition and logic dependency on implementation level of handset manufacturer.

Mobile networks in naxal-affected areas in 15 months, says govt

Mobile networks, under the Universal Service Obligation Fund scheme, in naxal-affected areas are likely to be set up in 15 months, the government said today.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha that the government was concerned about the coverage and quality of telecommunication services in left-wing extremism affected areas.

A proposal to install mobile towers at 1,836 locations in states affected by left-wing extremism with funding support from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) has already been approved.

“Mobile networks under the USOF scheme are likely to be set up in 15 months,” Prasad said during Question Hour.
Bharat Sancahr Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has installed mobile towers at 363 locations for which financial support to meet operational expenses would be provided through USOF.

According to the Minister, the project cost discovered by BSNL for setting up mobile towers in the naxal-affected states is “Rs 3,567.58 crore” through transparent and open tender process.

“In its meeting held on June 13, 2014, the Telecom Commission recommended that the proposal may be placed before the Union Cabinet for approval,” he said.

Besides, BSNL is implementing Phase VII of its mobile network expansion by installing Base Transreceiver Stations (BTSs) for 2G services and Node B for 3G services.

“Phase VII expansion of BSNL in the states affected by left-wing extremism is likely to be completed by April 2015,” Prasad said.
He also noted that there was no proposal by BSNL to take over network assets/infrastructure of other existing service providers.

Noting that security of telecom towers in naxal-affected areas is very important, Prasad said the government is working with various security agencies in this regard.
Having telecom towers in naxal-affected areas would not only help in beefing up security but also ensure connectivity, he said.

On the issue of ensuring power supply for the towers, he acknowledged that there are concerns and said “there is scope for improvement”.
The idea of using solar power for telecom towers is being looked into, especially for the North-East region, Prasad said.

To a separate query, the Minister said improving the functioning of BSNL is a priority for the government.
Under the Prime Minister’s direction, the government is working on ways to improve condition of BSNL and there would be improvement, he added.

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