Idukki in Kerala has become the first district in India to get high speed rural broadband connectivity under the government's Digital India project.
Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made the formal announcement of linking the hilly district with eight block offices and 53 gram panchayats to the network. The state run Bharat Sanchar Nigam laid the fiber.
The telecom department stated in a news release, “With the commissioning of Idukki, the district, which is relatively inaccessible and has a large tribal and rural population, will become the first district in the country to have all its gram panchayats connected through NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network).”
“It is expected that the establishment of NOFN would open up new avenues for access service providers like mobile operators, cable TV operators etc. to launch next generation services, and spur creation of local employment opportunities encompassing e-commerce, IT outsourcing etc. as well as services such as e-banking, e-health and e-education for inclusive growth,” it added.
NOFN is the world's largest rural connectivity project and plans to link India's 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through a broadband optical fiber network facilitating connectivity to over 600 million rural citizens.
Minister Prasad stated at the launch, "The launch is only a beginning, the vision is to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in next three years time," he said.
Under the Digital India initiative the government expects to connect 20,000 villages across the country through optic fiber. According to reports, Kerala is expected to become fully digitally connected by March, followed by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The telecom department has brough the deadline for digitally connecting the entire country forward to December 2016, from March 2017.