The Narendra Modi government is planning to spend Rs 20,000 crore on providing mobile connectivity in 55,000 villages over the next five years, Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg stated at the Digital India conference.
Speaking at the first meeting of the Centre and States to deliberate on various initiatives under the Digital India programme, Garg stated that half of these villages will receive connectivity in the first three years. The amount of Rs 20,000 crore will come through the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF), Garg added.
“It is very important to provide mobile connectivity in all the villages. We will connect up to 55,000 villages, which do not have such a service in the next 5 years and Rs 20,000 crore has been earmarked for this,” he said. "We will connect half of these villages in the next 3 years and the remaining in two years. For this purpose the country has been divided into 5 areas and survey of villages is being done to build towers,” he added.
The government is initially planning to spend Rs 69,524 crore on various IT and telecom projects under the Digital India initiative. The government has identified broadband and mobile networks as the key growth pillars under Digital India programme.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Communications and Information Technology Minister, stated at the ‘Digital India’ conference that sectors like e-commerce can become a big industry because of the broadband connectivity and high speed Internet in various parts of the country.
Prasad stated," I see e-commerce becoming a big thing because people living in villages also have big aspirations. If we spread the broadband connectivity, they would shop online and I see many warehouses coming up because of that, giving jobs to as many people in those areas,” Prasad added.
India is expected to have more than 500 million mobile Internet users by 2018 according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley. India now has over 200 million internet users and is adding 5 million new users every month. According to a recent eMarteker report India has the lowest Internet penetration growth in Pacific Asia at just 17.4 pc this year.