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Broadband for Rural India

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You must be joking right? When seamless broadband connectivity is a dream even for the urban population, how is the broadband going to spread to the rural areas with little or no infrastructure in place.

BSNL-Broadband

But, BSNL is out there to change the notion and kick start a project to have the rural sector connected like never before.

State-run BSNL will set up 30,000 broadband kiosks in rural and remote areas in the next two years on a franchisee basis. (Source: ET)

BSNL is planning to tie with partners to build a network of around 30,000 broadband kiosks and provide services to people at a small fee. They are targeting areas which have no alternative facilities for accessing the internet.

BSNL has making the right steps in the direction too. ICT systems integration firm HCL Info systems have partnered on the National Broadband Penetration Program (NBPP), a nationwide initiative to accelerate IT proliferation in rural India. The partnership is aimed at providing affordable broadband connectivity to the rural areas.

Come to think of it, rural India has a meaty contribution to the GDP and it makes sense to provide the stakeholders with better resources to enhance productivity.

It is however difficult to buy into the fact that the plan will not be marred into the usual bureaucracy like any other initiatives coming from the government. Most of the times, the projects are conceptualized and announcements made, but the execution seldom happens the right way.

But, this time around, the conceptualization has some salient features which might just make it work

    • The partnership with HCL should ensure that one important of the infrastructure will be taken care of by a professional (private) company.
    • The franchise model will provide a motivation for the stakeholders to ensure that the project sees the light of the day. The franchise owners will try to work towards providing the much needed maintenance and support
    • BSNL is going to feature 4 partners for 4 zone (North, East, South, West) with one sector taken care of by one partner. This should decrease the operation and management overhead for BSNL

BSNL is betting on the franchise model and possibly create a self sustaining model as a result. However, the partner selection will need to have stringent benchmarking standards to ensure that the partners bring the required operational experience to the table.

All in all, a great initiative which if achieves half of its projected targets will go a long way in connecting rural India to rest of the world. Imagine a farmer logging into the internet to see the weather forecast and plan his activity accordingly.

The dream of a connected India will however come true only if the project gets executed well and is affordable enough for everyone to make effective use of it.

Only then would BSNL would be able to justify its Advertising mantra,

“Hindustan Bol raha he”

What do you think? Will BSNL be able to pull it off and connect the rural India?

[This post has been written by our regular contributor Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]

  1. vivek says

    looks like the BCG Consulting is finally working out for them. But then its still too early to even comment because they have a great history of screwing up the best of the opportunities.

    1. Ankit says

      Whoa!! i dint know BSNL is taking services from BCG consulting!! But as u mentioned, BCG is contributing with conceptualization and strategy, execution is in the hands of BSNL which will have to shun the look and feel of a “sarkari” cumpany to be successful

  2. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Getting broadband to rural areas is only half the battle. Getting electricity to the rural areas is a bigger and longer battle. Unfortunately that is not in the hands of BSNL.

    1. Ankit says

      True:) It is a vicious circle!! Electricity is a basic premise.Makes me think if the Electricity dept can also seek partnerships with the private sector on similar lines!! When we can trade energy we sure can work towards diverting it to the rural sector.Agriculture Product will grow manifold if electricity and internet connectivity can be provided.Wish those who keep saying “Agriculture is a growth driver” actually walk the talk

      1. Madhav Shivpuri says

        Electricity -> Isn’t Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) set up for providing electricity to rural India? I guess this government has it right – it has set in motion various programs to address issues like electricity, internet, telecom, education etc., and its a matter of time before all the pieces of the puzzle start producing results. I am sure that in the decade or two, India will become double in terms of GDP, talent, education etc.

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