Digital India Current Affairs - 2020

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Free Wi-Fi services provided to all villages till 2020

On December 25, 2019, Union Minister of Communication and IT Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated “Digital Village Guruwara”. During the launch, it was announced that the Government has planned to offer free Wi-Fi services to all villages till March 2020.

Highlights

The Government of India has so far connected 1,30,000-gram panchayats through Bharatnet. More than 50,000 Gram Panchayat are yet to be connected. The government is working under the current target that at least 15% of villages are to be digitalized in next four years. The free Wi-Fi services are being announced under Bharatnet project.

The GoI in June 2018 announced that all gram panchayats will receive broadband connectivity by 2020. However, the connectivity has been made free now.

Bharatnet Project

The initiative was launched in 2011. Under the initiative, 100 Mbps speed internet were to be provided to around 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats. The aim is to increase their speed to around 2 to 20 Mbps in the future to all households in rural areas.

The project is a National Optical Fibre Network project. It is seen as a major initiative in order to succeed Digital India. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Telecommunications.

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Govt launches National Broadband Mission

Centre Government launched the National Broadband Mission (NBM) to provide broadband access to all villages by 2022. It was launched by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi. NBM is part of government’s National Digital Communications Policy, 2018.

About National Broadband Mission

Objective of NBM:

  • To fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge digital divide and to provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all
  • To provide broadband access to all villages by 2022

Salient Features of NBM:

Ambitious project will involve laying down around 30 Lakhs kilometre route Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) as well as increase tower density from 0.42 to 1.0 tower per thousand of population by 2024.

Facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services and significantly improve quality of services for mobile and internet for across country and especially in rural and remote areas.

Develop innovative implementation models for Right of Way (RoW) and to work with States and Union Territories for having consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure including for RoW approvals required for laying of OFC

Develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) for measuring the availability of digital communications infrastructure and conducive policy ecosystem within a States and Union Territory

Creating a digital fiber map of Digital Communications network and infrastructure, including OFC and Towers, across the country

Addressing policy and regulatory changes required for accelerating expansion and creation of digital infrastructure and services

Working with all stakeholders including concerned Ministries, Departments, government agencies, and Ministry of Finance, for enabling investments for Mission.

Fund: The NAM envisages an investment of Rs.7 lakh crore in next 4 years from both government and industry to connect the country digitally at a faster pace. 10% of funds will come from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and the balance to come from industry in form of towers and other assets.

Benefit: Besides securing universal broadband access for implementation of broadband initiatives, the mission will also fast-track digital connectivity across the country. Providing internet connectivity to 1 lakh villages will also push Indian economy to 5 trillion-dollar milestone.

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