The government has launched a National Broadband Mission aimed at providing broadband access to 600,000 villages in the country by 2022.

The plan entails investments worth Rs 7 trillion from various stakeholders which also includes a 10 per cent contribution from the Universal Service Obligation Fund over a period of next 3-4 years.

Under the mission, the government aims to offer internet speed of upto 50 Mbps in a phased manner.

As per the government, the Broadband Mission will expand optical fibre connectivity to 5 million kilometres from the current 2.2 million kilometres, and deploy 1 million mobile towers from the present 565,000 sites in next 3-4 years.

Government expects 70 per cent of mobile towers to be fiberised in next few years and has asked the telecom operators to improve quality of service.

The national mission aims to empower India’s rural and remote regions with digital connectivity on the back of ongoing BharatNet initiative.

Commenting on the development, Rajan S Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said, “We welcome the National Broadband Mission initiative by the telecom minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, in the presence of Shri Sanjay Dhotre, minister of state, government of India in its entirety. We believe the program is well conceived to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy as was envisaged by the Prime Minister under the Digital India program. Enabling fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridging the digital divide for empowerment and inclusion, and providing affordable and universal access of broadband for all, is the key objective of this mission and the industry is committed towards its fulfilment. Towards this goal, the industry is already working towards providing broadband to the uncovered villages and will continue to make necessary investments to ensure efficient roll out of affordable broadband services to all the villages by 2022. Our members have been consistently putting in concerted efforts in this direction and we further expect to attract investments to the tune of 7 to 8 billion in a year and look at deploying 1 tower per 1,000 citizens. COAI is also working with the state government and local bodies for uniform implementation of the right of way rules as state participation in terms of facilitating and expediting Row will be key to this mission. COAI is actively committed to work in tandem with the government so as to ensure that the National Broadband Mission targets that the minister has set forth for the industry, can be achieved within the stipulated time-frame.”