Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Trai for setting up national broadband network at Rs. 60K cr

In order to achieve 160 million broadband connections by 2014, telecom regulator Trai on Wednesday recommended setting up a national broadband network at a cost of about Rs. 60,000 crore.TRAI which came up recommendations on 'National Broadband Plan' said that the project would be financed by universal service obligation (USO) fund and the loan given by the government.The recommendations from Trai came amid the government's failure to meet its target of 20 million broadband connections by 2010.Besides, the recommendations on 'National Broadband Plan' is expected to facilitate inclusive growth of the country by including the large rural population in governance and decision making process and extend to the rural areas better education, health and banking facilities.At present, the number of broadband connections is only 10.3 million."Therefore, there is an urgent need to facilitate rapid growth of broadband," Trai said in its recommendations.Established in two phases, this network would be an open access optical fibre network connecting all habitation with population of 500 and above and will be completed by 2013."The network will provide easy access to high speed data and information to citizens, promoting thereby the efforts in the field of education, health and others," Trai said.To roll-out the nation-wide networks, Trai has also recommended formation of a government-owned holding company—National Optical Fibre Agency (NOFA).Besides, the centralised holding company, Trai also recommended formation of --State Optical Fiber Agency (SOFA)—in every state with 51 per cent equity held by NOFA and the rest by the respective state governments.Both the government holding companies are expected to ring in revenue to the tune of Rs. 26,000 crore per year."It is remarkable that now for the first time we have a clarity on the ways to achieve the targets as compared to the previous recommendations 2004 and 2008 which has only specified the targets. We have concrete time lines and milestones for achieving the targets," said IAMAI President Subho Ray."Since it entails setting up of an additional body to oversee implementation, we have to see that it is set up speedily and does not take too much time. Sine the setting up of the body will be instrumental in rolling out of the plans in desired phases," added Ray