On January 12, 2015, Idukki in Kerala became the first district in the country to be fully covered by high speed rural broadband network. This has been done under the project named National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) which will connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country by December 2016. At present, the Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connectivity is availed of in all district headquarters, State Capitals and Union Territories.
The Government’s project is to provide Internet connectivity to all villages as part of the Digital India programme. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and IT, formally inaugurated the broadband internet facility in Idukki district. The entire State will be covered by NOFN by March 2015. It is really good to know that under NOFN a tribal village panchayat, in Idukki, would also come under the broadband facility.
What is National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)?
Non-stop broadband connectivity through NOFN will be provided to all the service providers, like ISPs, cable TV operators, content providers, mobile operators and Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). NOFN will be made available by using the existing fibres of public sector units (PSUs) like Railtel, BSNL and Power Grid. The incremental fibres from these PSUs would be used to connect to gram panchayats wherever required. Dark fibre network created by using appropriate technology will help in the creation of sufficient bandwidth at the gram panchayats. This is known as the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN).
Advantages of NOFN
Through this project, many areas like health, education, Government, banks can be benefited with electronic application. The establishment of NOFN will open up new avenues for various service providers to launch next generation services. It would also create more local employment opportunities by covering IT outsourcing, e-commerce, e-health, e-education, e-governance, e-banking etc. This will also help in the proper implementation of various services like local planning, monitoring, management and payments under Government schemes at panchayat level.
On October 25, 2011, the previous Government of India had approved the establishment of NOFN to provide broadband connectivity to all the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country. All villages will be connected with broadband having adequate bandwidth. OFC connectivity is used in India, the idea is to extend it to all villages at the gram panchayat level. Funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), the cost of the NOFN project is estimated to be Rs 20,000 crore.
2.5 lakh villages to be covered by Dec 2016
The present Central Government has already set a target of providing the facility across 50,000 village panchayats by the end of March 2015, one lakh by March 2016 and another one lakh by end of 2016.
To make the project successful and accelerate the work, the Department of Telecom has warned of severe action against those officials who are delaying the project or not taking decisions. The project would offer internet at a bandwidth of 100 mbps, which is actually a very high-speed Internet connectivity. The high-speed internet connectivity through the national optical fibre network is the largest rural connectivity project so far. On its completion, NOFN will be able to provide broadband connectivity to the country’s over 600 million villagers. Under the Companies Act of 1956, a special purpose vehicle, Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), was formed as a PSU for the proper execution of the project.