Thomas K. Thomas

New Delhi, July 13

In a bid to woo villagers to supporting the broadband infrastructure roll-out in the rural areas, the Department of Telecom proposes to offer a slew of freebies at the panchayat level.

This includes giving three broadband connections to every gram panchayat free of charge for three years along with free installation of computer and printer; three telephone connections and one cable TV connection without any charge.

The sops will cost about Rs 2,000 crore, which will be funded through the Universal Services Obligation fund.

The move is aimed at helping the rural people experience and relate to benefits of broadband in a better way. The DoT is also hoping that the freebies will also soften up villagers to give unobstructed right of way to rollout the infrastructure.

Major bottlenecks

Delays in getting right of way is one of the major bottlenecks which telecom operators have to deal with while rolling out their network. Most of the clearances come from local self-government agencies that may not be willing to give permission without monetary benefit.

The DoT has also suggested that to involve villagers in the project, panchayat-level committee may be formed to oversee the work of laying the cables.

The local people will also be employed for digging trenches for the cable. State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd will train the workers and offer technical supervision.

The Government is planning a massive project to connect 2.5 lakh villages with more than 500 inhabitants with the broadband infrastructure that includes 13,000 base stations for wireless technologies and laying 500,000 route km of optical fibre cable network.

This is proposed to be done in two phases over a three-year period at an estimated cost of Rs 32,295 crore.

The entire project will be coordinated by a ‘high level authority' to be created by the Government.

Related Stories:
BSNL unveils rural broadband plans
Govt in a fix over mode for broadband in rural areas

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 14, 2010)
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