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Linking Up: WEBEL promotes IT penetration across West Bengal

August 06, 2015

West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Limited (WEBEL), the government agency responsible for technology development in the state, plays a significant role in implementing various IT and telecom initiatives across the state.

The following are the three of its key initiatives:

WBSWAN

The West Bengal state wide area network (WBSWAN) became operational in December 2009. Since then, its equipment has reached the obsolescence stage and undergone replacement. Of the 369 points of presence approved by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, 356 have been made operational. Under WBSWAN, the state government’s private network connects the state headquarters (SHQs) with the district, subdivisional and block headquarters (DHQs, SDHQs and BHQs) through terrestrial leased circuits provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) with a minimum bandwidth of 2 Mbps. WBSWAN is a triple-play network offering voice, video and data services to all government offices.

Some basic services available on the WBSWAN infrastructure include studio-type videoconferencing with the DHQs; desktop videoconferencing among the DHQs, SDHQs and BHQs; VoIP for all connected nodes; data connectivity for all lateral connected nodes; email servers for all users with web mail access; and internet access over WBSWAN to all connected nodes. In addition, the National Knowledge Network (NKN) is integrated with WBSWAN at the state and district levels. A parallel NKN link of 34-100 Mbps has been established from the DHQs to the SHQs and the current bandwidth utilisation is around 5 Mbps. The links to the SDHQs are all of 2 Mbps with the current bandwidth utilisation at about 70 per cent. These links are being augmented by BSNL to 4 Mbps. At the SHQ level, NKN bandwidth of 1 Gbps has been integrated with WBSWAN while at the DHQ level, NKN bandwidth of 34-100 Mbps has been integrated.

e-Governance

The National e-Governance Plan was launched by the central government in May 2006 and initially comprised 27 mission-mode projects and eight common core and support infrastructure components. WEBEL is its implementing agency in the state except for the common service centres (CSCs). The mission-mode projects relate to online payment of commercial tax, online registration of vehicles, e-district, employment exchange, treasuries, e-procurement by government departments, CSCs, computerised registration of documents, agricultural services, online access to land records, etc.

The NKN offers a shared bandwidth of 1 Gbps on the core infrastructure. IPv6 has, moreover, been deployed since the launch of the NKN. The core infrastructure hosts more than 50 e-governance applications. Wipro is the data centre operator and KPMG is the third-party audit agency for West Bengal’s data centre.

NOFN – Taking OFC to the gram panchayats

The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, like all SWAN projects, is funded by the central government through the Universal Service Obligation Fund. However, the network’s implementation has been very slow. Till now, only 5 per cent of the optic fibre cable has been laid in West Bengal by Bharat Broadband Network Limited. As a result, the state government has been asked to help in the speedy implementation of the project.

West Bengal currently has very low broadband penetration of around 1 per cent. Studies show that broadband availability and GDP are highly correlated. An increase in broadband penetration by 10 per cent in a developing state increases its GDP by 1.4 per cent.

Therefore, the West Bengal government is working towards the speedy implementation of the NOFN project in the state and has proposed its own model to roll out the broadband network under the project. The focus of the proposed scope of work for the West Bengal NOFN is on connecting 341 blocks to 3,353 gram panchayats in a ring architecture. The state government is planning to invest Rs 960 million on infrastructure linking the SHQs with the DHQs, Rs 480 million on linking the DHQs with the BHQs and Rs 240 million on linking the BHQs with the gram panchayats. Geographic information  system mapping needs to be completed before WEBEL launches the tenders for equipment procurement and implementation works.

Based on a presentation by Upender Jit Singh, Managing Director, the WEBEL group of companies

 
 

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