All gram panchayats in the country will be linked with optical fibre connectivity in the next two to three years. It will entail an investment of Rs 20,000 crore.

“This process is already rolled out and about 2.50 lakh panchayats will be covered under this programme,’’ Mr Sachin Pilot, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT said in his address at the inaugural session of IT summit ‘Advantage AP 2012’ here on Thursday.

About 110 million people had access to the Internet now making India the third largest country in the world in terms of access after the US and China, he said.

“Once we provide open access optical fibre connectivity and roll-out 4G, there will be a bigger transformation,’’ Mr Pilot said. He asked the State Governments to provide free right of way to lay the cables so that the cost of providing optical fibre connectivity could be brought down. Referring to Andhra Pradesh’s proposal for setting up IT Investment Region around the State capital, Mr Pilot said the project might be approved in about three months.

Mr K.V. Kamath, Chairman, Infosys and ICICI Bank said the next big wave for Indian IT industry should be innovation. With connectivity reaching over 700 million people and cost of devices coming down, it would be reality. Even now, 40 million plus people were online throught their hand-held device, he added.

Referring to Infosys operations in Hyderabad, Mr Kamath said the company’s manpower would continue to grow by 25 per cent per annum. Infosys has 22,000 employees here and has been hiring 6,000 every year.

The Chief Ministersaid the industry should make Andhra Prasesh as a preferred investment destination.

nagsridhu@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 21, 2012)
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