A State Broadband Committee headed by the Chief Secretary and comprising senior officials of key departments as its members as well as representatives from telecom industry as special invitees has been constituted in Telangana as part of the National Broadband Mission.
It has been formed for effective implementation and proliferation of broadband in the State, as part of the national mission that seeks to enable holistic measures providing equitable access to digital communications across all sections and strata of the society.
Bridging the ‘Digital Divide’ and thereby social economic divide is the objective of the National Broadband Mission. From facilitating e-governance, as a tool to ensure transparency, promoting financial inclusion to improving the ease of doing business, the benefits of a digitally-enabled society it expects are manifold. This is to be achieved by addressing policy and regulatory changes to accelerate expansion and creation of digital infrastructure and services.
In Telangana, a project on the lines of the national mission was one of the first few announced soon after the State was formed six years ago. Dovetailed with the Mission Bhagiratha project of the State government for supplying protected drinking water to every household, it seeks to provide broadband connectivity for all through an optic fibre network laid alongside the water pipes.
Last month, IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao had reviewed the T-Fiber project to provide high speed internet connectivity for all in the State and set a 10-month deadline for completion of the ambitious project. T-Fiber wants to connect every household, government institution and private enterprise across the State. The focus will be on those in rural areas and to ensure high speed internet connectivity for them.
The State Broadband Committee will be required to brief the National Broadband Mission on accomplishment of the objectives in Telangana, facilitate implementation of the guidelines for expansion of broadband services, address matters regarding Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) besides monitor and evaluate the work of the project. According to the national mission document, the BRI is a tool to measure availability of digital communications infrastructure and conducive policy ecosystem in a State or Union Territory. Nodal officers are to be appointed in each district/municipal area for better monitoring.
Besides the Chief Secretary as its chairman, the State Broadband Committee will have as co-member convenors Principal Secretary IT and Adviser/Senior DDG of DOT, APLSA, Telangana. Its members will be Principal Secretary to the Department of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Principal Secretary to the Department of Transport, Roads and Buildings and Special Chief Secretary to Environment, Forests, Science and Technology Department.
Chief General Manager of BSNL, CGM of Bharat Broadband Network Ltd and representatives from Cellular Operators Association of India and Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association will be special invitees.
One of the three States allowed by the Centre to pursue a Broadband for All project of its own, Telangana and its T-Fiber project are expected to attract considerable attention and may well serve as a model as the National Broadband Mission takes root.
“Ours will be a unique model,” Principal Secretary IT Jayesh Ranjan said about the T-Fiber project of providing broadband connectivity to all.
“At the national level, there is lot of interest and attention to see what we deliver,” the senior official said. Three aspects will be of specific interest. First, the quality of infrastructure “we will be able to deliver, second how affordable we will be able to make it and third, what services we will be able to ride on them,” Mr. Ranjan added.
Pointing out that mere connectivity will be of little use, Mr.Ranjan said the success of the project will depend on the speed of the internet, the robustness and reliability of the infrastructure, pricing model and above all the services.
Telangana is one of the three States – Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh others – allowed by the Centre to implement a project of their own instead of being part of the Bharat Net project. Called State-led model, the projects will draw on Central resources.